Thinking back, there were things that I was allowed to do that would scare the crap out of me now. Being a parent myself, I understand why children can’t roam unattended, but days were different then, and apparently there was a network of moms, unannounced to their kids, who worked together to keep an eye on our location. As I grew up, I truly do remember days when the lightning bugs came out before we went in. Our moms were somewhere in the background by that time in the evening, but all I remember was the fun created by a random game in someone’s yard.
For the life of me I can’t remember how I managed this freedom, or how I escaped the back yard without an armed escort, but I’m so thankful for whatever trick I employed that lead me to the woods behind our yard when I was only four years-old. The memories are fuzzy, but I know that was where I met the slightest of children, blonde and pixie like. Staring up into the heavens, she stood looking at her brother, but I am sure she was placed there for me to find.
As an adult, I now know that finding a male in the top of a tree is cause for alarm. Then, however, it seemed just as amusing to me as it did to her. I don’t know why he chose to climb a tree behind my house, it was nowhere close to theirs, but I do feel that it was kismet that we met, almost thirty years ago, and I know my life would not be the same today if he had chosen any other tree.
That was the summer of 1984.
As fate would have it, our moms also grew to enjoy their time together, which made it so much easier for the three of us to spend countless hours. I still have the layout of their home ingrained in my memory for it feels like I spent as much time there as I did in my own home. Her family was my family. School, Girl Scouts, camp… we did it all together. She and her brother even sat in the hall with me when my brother, eight years younger than I, was born.
Then the Coast Guard called, and they had to leave…
Off to Florida went my best friend, with the rest of her family and my heart. A year later we moved, and that’s where the story gets really amazing. At the age of eight, I lost all of my friends and had to start over in a new school, but one of them remained despite being separated by four states. Phone calls and letters, newspaper clipping and pictures, somehow we were still a part of each other’s lives.
Then they moved to Michigan, where apparently it snows at least eight months out of every twelve, and still she stayed in touch. Somehow we grew up together, even though we really didn’t.
She was back for my high school graduation, stood as my Maid of Honor at my wedding, and has come after the birth of my children. She is the sister my parents didn’t give me, and for that and much more I am ever so grateful.
Her family is my family, her parents an extension of my own.
As for that boy in the tree so many years ago, I continue to give him thanks. Had it not been for him, I would not have met her.
I would not have received the text yesterday: “Box #1 sent out today.” You see, that means something more to me than it probably does to most people. It means her stuff is on the way… and so is she. There’s no turning back now.