Wednesday / May 13 / 2015
Forging friendship with the girl next door
I grew up in a world of unlocked doors, shared homes and no strangers. A world without emails, pagers or cell phones. Friendships were forged over long talks, tree climbing, sleepovers and lots of imaginative soul connecting. Children reported home when the big clock in the sky told us it was “dark” – a clock rarely interpreted the same by our parents. It was a simpler time.
Everyone knew everyone else and we flitted from friends’ house to friends’ house without worry or predetermined plans. We lived out the innocence of our youth, full of adventure for worlds yet to be discovered. Although we didn’t choose willy nilly, it wasn’t unusual to have more than one, ‘Mom’. By way of example, they taught us the importance of loving organically, purely. What a gift.
There weren’t very many new kids at our school. We averaged about 70 students per class and had the luxury of knowing everyone in three grades on either side. A non-transient area, I graduated with the solid majority of students I knew in kindergarten. So, when I found out new neighbors were moving in two doors down, and said new neighbors included a girl my age, I was stoked.
I can’t remember the first moment I met Tina Fonzo, but I can remember the first time I saw her room.
Walking through the bamboo beaded door curtain, I began to take in the essence of my new friend. Books and notebooks neatly littered her shelves. Two hammocks of stuffed animals were draped in the top corners of her room, each cradling strategically placed animals. Monkeys hanging by their tails and otters gazing from beneath the stack looked upon the privileged stuffed animals holding court on the bed. Ahhhh, they were the chosen few and you could tell they knew it. Bearing no sense of arrogance, their black eyes peered at me with curiosity.
They had earned their place in Tina’s guarded life and extended a challenge for me to do likewise.
“This is fantastic!,” I radiated as I plopped onto her bed. I brought Tina up-to-speed on life in Hadley over the past 14 years and over the next several days, we talked about everything from boys to parents to school, pausing only to make homemade fried bread dough to fuel our conversation. I don’t recall turning the television on even once. There was no time to waste being quiet watching a show.
We had life to catch up on.
I think it was after life-sharing Visit #2 I paused before dashing out the door in an attempt to make it home while Mom-n-Dad still considered it not yet dark. “I am SO glad you moved here,” I announced, throwing my arms around her in a bear-hug embrace. The look on her face was foreign to me until she spoke words I’d never before heard, “I’ve never had a friend hug me before.”
“Really!?,” I asked incredulously. In that moment, Tina exposed a microscope she’d kept hidden all her life. A microscope revealing that the head of a pin can hold a lifetime of memories yet to be shared. I felt privileged. “Well, get used to it,” I declared without apology. From there, a forever friendship was forged.