When Your Best Friend Is a 6-Year-Old

If you haven’t met our Art Director Kirsten Samanich, treat yourself to reading her hilarious story about her nanny days. You’re welcome in advance. Here, things take a slightly more serious turn as Kiri remembers having to say goodbye.

You will learn every zinging pitch the human voice is capable of shrieking in the Disney store. Or the grocery store. Or your room. You will skip more often than you walk (and trip more often than you skip). You will never cease to find the glitter of her wiry fairy wings in a defiant, indelible coating over everything you own.

You will sing with her and scribble with her and play Twister with her, a bokeh light mosaic of red and blue and yellow and green. You will find yourself more excited by the prospect of a Friday night spent playing hairdresser and pillow warrior than donning cat-eyes in a crowded bar.

You will hold two voices in a singular throat: one for the soft stuff of storybooks and chalkboard experiments. Dandelion crowns crawling their worming way around your temples. And one voice for the fear of misplaced feet. Swerving tires. Un-swept pinpricks of unforgiving glass. The inevitability of things crashing and splintering apart.

  Photo by Eileen Allington

Photo by Eileen Allington

You will consider these voices like roommates in a too-tight house. How lovely one must be when paralleled with the other. How nice it is that she could make it out, her silken hair strands marching steadfast and together down her back. When she is here, aren’t we all the stuff of throw pillows as they collide? Synth keyboards hum and little feet prickle hardwood at the sound. I will always be here, she seems to say. We will always be this.

But when your best friend is a 6-year-old, the trouble is no matter how many cupped or crazy sounds, they’ve still come from only one you. You still have only one throat. And when it leaves, you leave. And when you leave, she stays. In the puddle of color-block floor and chalk dust, in a place that was also a repeated arrival. A pink mouth swimming towards your name. Throwing confetti at the sidewalk or twirling wild arcs in a princess dress. And you will have to know that because of you, because of your going away, she knows what you know, what you hoped she might never know, which is that always is just a pretty word. And people leave sometimes as fast as they come.

This is the sadness of doors, love.

There is glass hiding somewhere on the floor, love.

We will not always be this, love.

But she hears both voices. She sees both truths. She needs no lessons from you. And as she reaches to you in goodbye, you will be caught in the impossibility of all that she knows. You will see the glitter still affixed to her cheeks, still glazed across your own hands and clothes. A subtle resilience. A stubborn, lasting dust.

FEATURE PHOTO BY EILEEN ALLINGTON