It is the most unlikely of friendships.
I didn’t meet her until I was 7 years old – second grade, when she began attending my school. Up until then, I knew everyone in my class because they all lived in my neighborhood and had gone to school with me since kindergarten. But I didn’t know her.
She had bright red hair braided tightly into two plaits that stuck out from the side of her head, freckles, and a crooked grin. I, on the other hand, had mousy brown hair, cut into a pixie style, and crooked bangs. She was funny and laughed readily. I was quiet and shy, uncomfortable with anyone I didn’t know. For reasons I’ll never be able to explain, we hit it off from the get-go.
In third grade we sat behind the fitzer bushes in front of my house and read Nancy Drew. We took our shots at writing The Great American Mystery Story, and proudly turned them into our teacher. Miss Gasper managed to accept them without laughing.
In fifth grade we decided to memorize the Gettysburg Address and volunteered to recite it in front of the class for extra credit. I knew every word, but didn’t even open my mouth the entire time. We hadn’t exactly planned our presentation, and so she started out and it went from there. I remember our teacher telling me quietly, “Kristine, you didn’t really participate much.” Rats.
In sixth grade we made prank phone calls for laughs. Poor Fred Hamburger (his real name). We would take turns. Ring ring ring. “Hello?” “Hello Mr. Hamburger,” one of us would say. “I’m in a real pickle.” Or, “I don’t think you’re cutting the mustard.” Or something equally hilarious. Not surprisingly, Mr. Hamburger eventually got an unlisted number.
Saturday afternoons we spent window shopping or drinking cherry cokes at Tooley’s Drug Store or making prank phone calls from the pay phone at Tooley’s to the pay phone across the street in the town park. Or, once the one department store in Columbus got an elevator, we would spend an afternoon riding the elevator. That’s all. Just riding the elevator.
High school and college took us different directions, but we remained friends. As adults, I was a part of her wedding and she was a part of mine. I attempted to calm her angst as she and her husband went through their fertility issues, and she saved my life as I went through my divorce. I could call her any time, day or night, and she would listen. Sometimes all I would do is cry. And she let me.
She still lives in Nebraska, and I’m far away in Colorado and/or Arizona. We probably only talk a few times a year. But when we do, it’s like we talked last week.
All of this is to say that yesterday afternoon, her daughter, now an adult with a master’s degree and a grown-up job, came to visit and spend the night. I hadn’t seen her for a very long time, but, just as with my friend, it was like we talked last week. She’s a funny combination of her mother and her father, both who are vastly different from one another (but somehow it works). It makes me happy to see that my friend has produced a lovely grown-up human being, intelligent, likeable, and oh-so-funny, just like her mother.
This post linked to the GRAND Social