Today I ordered some Forget-Me-Not seeds. I've meant to do this for a while---these little blue flowers are the flowers I most associate with my youth, along with lilacs. In the house in Ballard where I was born, under the leaky spigot in the back yard, wild patches of Forget-Me-Nots grew, not to be deterred, coming back every year from seemingly nowhere. They are plucky, spirited little things that love water and resemble it.
But the reason I bought the seeds today is because I want to plant these flowers in remembrance of a childhood friend who passed away 16 years ago, Mollola King Blair. She was a year younger than me, the child of one of my mother's dear friends. She grew up a few houses down, and we were raised like cousins. We spent many hours at each other's houses, or best yet, running free in the neighborhood, usually coming up with some new exclusive 'club' with bizarre rules and hierarchies. We tormented our younger brothers and traded stickers and collected Barbies and She-Ra dolls. We talked about how we felt about our parents and listed off the things that we wanted, including growing up faster. I moved away when I was 10 and my friendship with Mollola fizzled out. We had our own lives and worlds that were different and this was before the Internet, which might have helped bridge the distance. We grew up faster, just like we wanted.
Her death devastated me 16 years ago, and even now, I think of her often. I wish I'd kept in touch with her and could have known her as a teenager. But the memories from our childhood are so strong that she looms large in my heart regardless. Her name was the first name I learned to spell after my own. We spent hours at the pool, learning to swim and working hard to earn these lollipops they passed out afterwards, that were sour and had the consistency of chalk. We became blood sisters at least a few times because we were always concerned that our earlier attempts 'didn't take'. We snuck cookies and talked about how cute pandas were and once, regrettably, flushed bar soap down a toilet. We ran around at our mothers' craft fair, in our little aprons, on small errands, looking forward to the promise of pizza for our efforts.
She and I were both tough and strong-willed, and we argued at times and then made up over popsicles. We always went back to the friendship, because the block was only so big, and because we knew each other better, all the bad and the good, than anyone else. I knew every square of concrete in the sidewalk between my house and her house, its blemishes and topography, the spots where a bike might swerve or pitch or where a person might trip. I could have gone blindfolded, and I remembered that the day I walked back with my mother, after her death. I saw the doorbell with the crescent moon before I rang it, and her face in the doorway before it opened. Of course, she wasn't there.
Mollola, I have not forgotten you.