She screams with joy, breaks loose from me and races towards “Mary-Kate” and “Ashley”. More screaming and hugging, as if they had not parted from each other a bare two hours ago, and before that, as if they had not spent the whole day together. We become invisible- the only reality in the school Halloween party is the presence of “Mary-Kate” and “Ashley”- everything else is a swirl of dust, a nothingness. She does not see anybody or anything else. Her happiness, her whole being, it seems, now depends on “Mary-Kate” and “Ashley”. With them, there is joyful life. Without them, only deadly dullness and despair.

It goes beyond ordinary friendship. There are a couple of my family members who had friends like that- where the pure pleasure and joy derived from being with someone transcended everything, but everything, else. I can’t remember it, for myself. I had and have close friends, friends whose company and conversation I enjoy, yes, who I would go out of my way for (for a short while) to see them. But nothing like this, this sparkling enchantment. In a school full of children, she only sees “Mary-Kate” and “Ashley”, only does what they want to do (they don’t like dancing, so the princess, born dancing, doesn’t want to dance either). I can never remember either doing something or not doing something because of what some other friend else wanted. For my father, I have done, but never for a peer. Not as a child, not as an adult. (though perhaps my mother would say differently. I remember her sobbing hysterically several years back, cursing a university friend of mine and blaming my rejection of religion on her influence. I remember feeling so surprised- we hadn’t been particularly close, and I never understood how she made that connection. Of course I could never tell her the real reasons, not then, not now)

Back to “Mary-Kate” and “Ashley”, the enchantresses of my daughter’s heart. I will not make my mother’s claim, I will not blame them for my daughter’s bewitchment. I must accept that there will always be a “Mary-Kate” and “Ashley” in my daughter’s life, if not these two, then some other ones. And I must choose my plots and tactics with care and delicacy.

You will be with us, in one guise or another, all our lives. I know.


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