“With moving, I have always been partial to the in-between, the blurred highway outside the window, that suspended time when everything you were lies behind you like a molted skin and everything you might become shimmers at the horizon. You might choose anything and make it happen, constrained by nothing but your own imagination, sure that not even gravity can hold you.”
One of my favorite books is The Myth of You and Me by Leah Stewart. I first read this book when it was published in 2006. It’s about two best friends and their journey through high school and college together and their eventual “breakup.” It rang so true to me because I had a best friend in high school. In college, we drifted apart and didn’t speak for several years. It was this book that brought my best friend and I back together again.
When the book opens, we meet Cameron, the narrator of the story. She works for an aging historian, Oliver Doucet, and she has come to love him like a father, maybe a little more so. The real status of their relationship is never outwardly revealed but you get the impression that the feelings they have for one another in not quite boss and employee, not quite father and daughter, not quite lovers. One day, seemingly out of the blue, after many years of not speaking, Cameron’s ex-best friend Sonia writes her a letter. Sonia is getting married, has been thinking about her life and misses Cameron and their relationship. Despite Oliver’s insistence, Cameron does not respond to the letter. After Oliver’s death Cameron learns that he and Sonia have been exchanging letters. Oliver’s last assignment for Cameron is to bring a package to Sonia. It is during her journey that we learn a lot about both Cameron and Sonia and their relationship. We also come to learn that Cameron cuts herself off from people, and what we learn later is why. Obviously, it has something to do with Sonia.
During my first reading of this book, I found a few parallels with my life and the story. At the time, I was planning my own wedding. I also was thinking a lot about my life and where it had been and where it was going. When you grow up so close with one person, you can’t help but think of them when they are no longer a part of your life; at least, this was true in my case, even though my friend and I hadn’t been in touch with each other for several years. The reason for our parting was not at all like the situation in the book. We just stopped calling each other, both of us caught up in our own college lives, in two different states.
I recently re-read this book and loved it just as much as I did the first time. Not only do I love this story for personal reasons, but the writing is amazing. The depth of emotions portrayed is very real. Cameron’s and Sonia’s relationship is so complex and has many layers to it. And each character has her own personal issues to deal with, issues that impact the relationship they have with each other and with people outside of their bond.
Not long after I read this book the first time, I learned that my friend was back in the area of our hometown, as was I. I didn’t know where exactly, but I took a big breath and wrote her a letter and sent it to her mother’s address, the same house where she grew up and we spent many hours hanging out and just being teenage girls. It was only a few days before she called me. We picked up right where we left off, it seems. We are once again best friends and spend a lot of time together. Our husbands get along very well. We didn’t become close again in time for my wedding but I am pleased to say that I was maid of honor at her wedding. I was honored and surprised that she asked me considering the amount of time we weren’t a part of each other’s lives.
I am sad that we let so many years go by before reuniting and I wish I had been a part of her college years and she mine. But that is all in the past. We can only look forward. And looking forward, I am very grateful to have such a close friend to share all of those events that are yet to come.