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A Sea Bean and the Power of Teenage Friendships

Teenage friendships are intense. I was reminded of this recently when I thought I lost my sea bean.

Yes, my sea bean.

I’m 40 years old, but I was suddenly 17 again and desperately needed that little seed.

You see, it was given to me by a friend when we were in high school.  It has lived in 7 homes with me over the past 23 years.

My friend Gus gave me it to me.  We were in a Kmart parking lot and he found it on the ground.

I don’t know why a sea bean was in a Kmart parking lot ten miles from the ocean.

He presented me with the sea bean with great enthusiasm, as though it was the most thoughtful and extravagant gift of all time.  I said it looked like a hamburger.  He took it back and bit into it.  As if it were a hamburger.  Then gave it back to me.

I’ve been carrying around this weird seed with my friend’s teeth marks in it for more than half of my life.

Gus and I had an intense friendship.  We loved each other in a platonic, but intense way.  He called to tell me goodnight and he loved me every night, even after high school graduation.  We yelled, cried and laughed together.  We held hands and let the other see pieces we kept from the rest of the world.

The power of teenage friendships continues, even decades later.

And then I got married.  And he fell into a pit of addictions.  We stayed close as best we could during our 20s, though it was challenging for so many reasons.  Transitioning the intensity of our friendship into adulthood was difficult.  It was painful.  Our jagged edges used to fit together so well.  But as life changed, they started cutting each other.

Addiction overcame him.  He made some really bad choices, and it all resulted in his life ending at 30.

Wow, I just realized that’s been almost 10 years.

It hit me hard.  The mourning came in waves for a long time.  I still miss him all the time.

Back to the sea bean.

My husband of nearly 20 years and I parted ways in April.  I moved out and left most of my belongings behind while I figured some stuff out.  A month or so later I stopped by the house to collect important things.  My Instant Pot, photos of my daughter, my birth certificate and passport, my sea bean, etc.

But I accidentally left the bean on the counter.  I texted my soon-to-be-ex-husband and asked him to please keep it safe.  I went back to retrieve it a few weeks later and he’d forgotten where he put it.

I stayed calm.  I believed it would turn up.  I left without it.

But I was filled with anxiety and grief.  I cried in my car.  Full on sobbing.

I didn’t like not knowing where it was.

I vented to two friends, one male and one female.  “The sea bean has Gus’s TEETH MARKS.  He’s dead, but I still have his teeth marks.  But now I don’t know where it is.”

Both asked the same question:  “What’s a sea bean?”

It was back in my hands within a few hours.  I kept it within easy reach for days.  I rubbed my finger over the teeth indents.  I felt all the intensity that comes with teenage friendships, just like when he first sunk his teeth into it at 17.

It reminded of two things.  1.  Grief is tricky.  It can wash over you fresh even when you think you’ve processed it.  2.  My daughter is 17 now.  Her friends are her world and I need to be sensitive to that.

So that’s the story of when I had a meltdown in my car because I didn’t know where my sea bean was.

(I told my psychic friend Angela this story and she helped me accept I really do feel Gus’s presence.  This is both comforting and makes me feel a little crazy.  I’ll write about that another time.)


The power of teenage friendships


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