On your mark ...
My LYS - LYLAS

People I have known: looking for Ivy

I'm an ace Google researcher. If I have your name and one or two other details about you, I can usually find you on the Internet if there's anything out there to be found. The problem with Ivy is that she has she has an incredibly common last name. Maybe she's not on the Internet. Maybe she's married. Maybe she's moved to another state. I've checked Google, Facebook, MySpace. Can't find her.

Ivy was my best friend in middle school. She had more guts and more imagination than anyone I'd ever met. We went to a very small school at our church - there were just three of us in our grade. Poor Michelle - always the third wheel. I can't say we were very nice to her.

Here's a picture from one of my birthday parties. Michelle is on the left and Ivy is on the right in the blue sweater, with two of her three sisters beside her. Her youngest sister, Sherika, was too young to be at the party. I'm the one in the lovely yellow and orange sundress with the yellow t-shirt on underneath. I'm looking in a hand mirror and combing my hair - one of my birthday presents.

my birthday party

Ivy and I were always together, except that on Saturdays I went to the church and she went to the black church. Mount Olive, it's called. I went there a few times, or she'd come to mine, but for the most part our Saturdays were separate. I knew that Mount Olive had better singing and a more engaging pastor. I wanted to go there and sit and not listen with Ivy.

As shy as I was in middle school (and high school, and college), Ivy was my exact opposite. Outgoing, sharp, witty, superfuncrazy. She came up with the games we all played at recess. One I remember was called "orphanage." We were all a family - our parents had died and we were on the run, trying to escape social services so we could stay together. Sounds terrible now, but what I remember is Ivy and I holding hands, running like the wind: sisters.

Ivy was impatient. No call waiting in those days, so if I was on the phone with another friend when she wanted to talk to me, Ivy would call the operator and have her break through on the line, telling me there was an emergency. I have no idea what we talked about - school or TV, I guess. There were no boys our age at our school. I think we were both bored out of our minds, restricted by circumstance and our overbearing religion. These were good times and bad for both of us.

I stayed over at Ivy's house one night. We played outside with her youngest sister, who was probably 2 or 3 at the time. Sherika was dancing and we were laughing, I remember. She was a lot like Ivy - charming, outgoing, fun.

At dinner, I was so very afraid I was going to spill something. They had plastic on their sofa, plastic on the seats of their Ford Escort. We weren't allowed to act crazy inside. I really wanted her parents to like me. I ate and drank carefully and kept quiet.

That night, I was 11 with a brand new training bra and an extreme case of shyness. When it was time for bed, Ivy changed into her nightgown in the closet so that I wouldn't be embarrassed to do the same. I went next. As I was walking out, her older sister Shauna walked into the room, "Oh, she doesn't want black people to see her get undressed!" I was mortified. I was so embarrassed about my body, but I couldn't explain that to her. Instead, I turned 17 shades of red and didn't say a word. Ivy protested that it wasn't like that but Shauna just walked out, laughing at my stupidity. There was no way we could've explained to her that we were sisters. That we understood each other. She wouldn't have believed us.

After two years of being best friends, her family moved to Atlanta. I was devastated. We promised to keep in touch, but never did. As I was going through high school and college, I thought of her. When I hated my life, I wished I could talk to her. When things were good, we couldn't celebrate. Then one day 13 years ago, she called me. I was about to graduate from college. I was living with my mom, asleep in my bed, and the phone rang. My mom got it, brought it to me, and said, "It's Ivy."

I couldn't believe it. I was joyously happy to hear from her.

She told me that she was thinking of going back to school. She had moved back to our hometown, but might be moving back again to Atlanta, depending on which school she wanted to go to. She had three kids, had never married. She sounded stressed.

She was the same; she was different. She was grown up; I was not.

I asked about her sisters, her family. I forget what she said about Shauna; we never were close. Her younger sister, Tasha, who I also loved, was doing well, living in DC. I asked about Sherika. She was surprised I hadn't heard. She'd passed away while still just a child. I forget what she had - cancer? It tore the family apart. Her parents divorced. She did anything she could not to be home. Then she got pregnant...

I don't remember what I said, but I can tell you how much this hurts. That I didn't know while it was happening. That her family didn't survive it intact. The pain she must have felt, the anger. That Sherika is gone. That I could've been there for her and wasn't.

She gave me her phone number, but said she was moving soon. We were going to get together. When I called, I got a machine. When she called, she got mine. When I called again the next week, the phone was disconnected. I dreamed that I went to visit her mother in Atlanta so that I could find Ivy, that I hugged her mom and told her I was sorry to hear about Sherika. Then Sherika was outside in the sunshine, dancing in a butter yellow dress, ankle socks, and patent leather shoes. I watched her and thought, oh, she's fine, just fine!

I have not yet found Ivy again, though I hold her close to my heart and continue to look. No matter the time, the miles, the circumstances, she is my sister. I hope that somehow, she feels that way too.

***
I'm entering this post in Gayle's Monday Memories at Planet M Files. Please join in, if you can!

Comments

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Liss

How nice it would be for you to find Amy. Sound like you would have a lot to catch up on. I hope you find her.

Gayle

Oh, maya, this is such a beautiful tribute to your wonderful friend. I'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face. I hope you find Ivy. I hope she knows that you still hold her so close in your heart. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

amy

Oh M
I hope you find her. That was so lovely and sad.

Kandi

Oh wow. What a wonderful story.

East Coast Wahine

I hope you find Ivy too! What a sad story but reminds us of how special and fleeting relationships can be.

Angela

What an incredible story - I hope you find Ivy!
~angela

Teresa

I really hope you find your friend!

Monkey's Momma

Wherever Ivy is, I hope you find her again!

purejoy

what a beautiful post. i am confident that you will one day find ivy again. in the meantime, i'm sure that you can find about a million reasons why the Lord put her in your life. what a sweet treasure-trove of memories.

Diana J

oprah could find her. send this to oprah. she'll love it.

Kim @ Forever Wherever

Maya, I was very touched by your story. Someday you'll find her.
~Kim

Shalet

How touching and sad. I hope you find her and find her well.

elizabeth

I hope you find her. And somehow, I'm sure she can feel your love. I can feel it through your post, so it seems impossible that she could not. :)

Amy

I hope you find her. But even if you don't, those are wonderful memories to hold close. My childhood best-friend and I reconnected at a high school reunion two Junes ago. We promised to get in touch and catch up more and introduce each other to the kids and spouses etc. Later that summer she died suddenly while exercising - found by her 3 year old son. We had never followed through on our promises. It was that regret that prompted my reaching out to connect on FB and through blogging. No more hollow promises I decided.

Lisa Renata

Ah, Maya this made me remeber of two friends I had in Elementary that I would love to find and have not had any luck. Keep on searching and you will find her. My friend MariCarmen would agree. She searched for me everywhere (both here in the US and in Mexico). We were friends in Junior High as well, she left and after couple of years of writing back and forth we lots touch. Years later, she searched and searched and found me! It is wonderful to have her back in my life (even if only through e-mails. She's in Mexico and I am here).

Recent blog post: Wintery Chaos :: Desastre Invernal

Toni

Way to make me cry at work! Thankfully no bosses are here today, which is why I'm visiting now. I have the same situation! My next door neighbor growing up was my best friend. I moved and moved and we were able to stay in sporadic contact until my ex-husband and I split up. I don't think he forwarded my mail and I couldn't find her address. I've been Googling, searched Facebook and MySpace, but nothing. I hope you can find her!

laura @ the shore house

That is such a beautiful/sad/funny/touching story. I really, REALLY hope you find Ivy. I feel like...I saw a commericial for a new show on TLC? Discovery? Bravo? (that's about all I watch so it had to be one of those :-) that's reuniting people. Your story would totally make the cut.

Alexis

So lovely, Maya!

rachel whetzel

Why must you insist on tugging on every heart string I have? This is amazing, and I am not surprised, because the way you write is magical.

Carin.c

Just keep checking facebook - people are signing up every week or adding more friends to their lists. People are looking for people from their past and the FB buzz is growing daily. In the last 3 months I've been slowly reconnecting with long lost childhood freinds via FB. Make sure your maiden name is included in your profile so she can find you if she is looking. I found one friend who didn't use her maiden name on FB (and I didn't know her new name) by going through the friend lists of people from the town we grew up in. Keep checking... hope she turns up for you.

yard sale princess

Wow! I hope you find her! I had a friend that I was close to and then lost when we were young. She moved away and we just grew apart. I thought of her on my birthday EVERY year, it was her birthday too. I thought about her when I met my husband, when I got married and when I moved back to our hometown. Last year, I tried looking her up on myspace but couldn't find her. Then I tried finding her brother. Through him I found her! We were able to talk and meet up when she came to see her parents. Keep trying, you will find her!

AfroPix

Maya, great engaging story. I have to admit I laughed out loud at the "trying to escape social services" part!!! I am fortunate, my best friend from elementary school is still a best friend of mine, although as a adult we don't hang out as much as we did as kids, but I just talked to her two days ago.

Good luck in your quest. Paula

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