I call her “my oldest and longest friend”, but she’s not the longest or oldest among my friends. We have known each other since kindergarten; I know her as long as I can remember. We have learned to read and write and we have taught each other to read and write. Or actually Caroline always used to be teacher, but I think you can also learn a lot of being teacher. Even before we started learning words that consisted of more than one syllable in class, Caroline already dictated words like “zipper”, which I then tried to write correctly. Actually it was a little mean, because we hadn’t learned the Z yet. I already expected it to be a tricky question, so I wrote it with a C.
Yesterday she sent me a short poem before going to bed:
Without mouths we can still sing,
In our stomachs we can sing,
In our sleeps we can sing,
In our ground we can sing,
But a flower came,
and pierced through our skin,
and we scream,
by Martijn Teerlinck
Years ago I managed to cheer up Caroline by confessing my most ashamed moment to her. I told her that in a German bakery, I let out a fart that stank so much, that I didn’t dare to object when my boyfriend at the time thought that the disabled child in front of us in the queue had produced this sickening smell. The next eight hours in the car on our way home, I was scared to death for the moment that the truth would come out. Or that I would be thrown out of the car… Although the poem by Martijn Teerlinck didn’t make me scream with laughter, it did cheer me up. The word cheering up is actually way too light to describe the intensely deep feeling of my smile. It feels like… friendship.
Translated by Hester Falkena