When I was little, we moved a lot. I was in a new school in new towns in 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grades, another one in another town for junior high, and then a private high school, where I got to stay until I graduated. As you can imagine, moving so much made it hard to develop any lasting friendships. I’ve always felt like an outsider among groups of friends, like I don’t fit in anywhere, and I’m sure that moving around had a lot to do with that.
It didn’t help much that I’m a natural introvert, so making new friends has never been easy for me. I’ve always felt more comfortable in my own head and in books than interacting with other people, though I sometimes wonder if that’s as much a result of moving so much as it is an innate inclination. I think I also, at some point, stopped really putting a lot of effort into friendships, because what was the point when I would most likely be leaving at some point? It was easier to move away from people I didn’t really care about than to leave really good friends.
But there’s always been one exception to this, and that exception is my friend Francesca. We met in 2nd grade, when I was 6 and she was 7. I don’t remember if we bonded instantly upon meeting, but we pretty quickly became fast friends. It seems like I was at her house every day after school, and her family was like a surrogate family for me. Here we are having a tea party on a cardboard box in her yard (me on the left, her on the right):
We had some arguments over stupid things, like kids do. There was the Helen incident, when the popular girl in our class decided to not like Francesca. When Helen decided to not like you, that meant none of the other girls were allowed to like you. I cringe to think of it now and am ashamed to admit that I didn’t stick by my friend during that time, but somehow we made it through that and stayed friends.
There was the time we were mad at each other over SOMETHING, I have no idea what, and had a fight outside her house. We yelled and she tried to hit me with her hair, and then her mother came out and offered us glasses of milk to cool off.
There was the Great Honeysuckle Purge of 3rd Grade, which I won’t relate here right now, to spare myself her groans when she reads this. Suffice to say that the honeysuckle incident has gone down in infamy and Francesca is thoroughly sick of hearing about it, but when I saw her mother recently at her bridal shower, the first thing she said to me was, “The last time I saw you, you said I was an overbearing mother” and the second thing she said to me was, “Do you remember when you ate the honeysuckle?”
Somehow, Francesca and I stayed friends through all my moves. We talked on the phone without seeing each other in person for years. As we grew up, we remained interested in the same things. When we could both drive, we saw each other a little more frequently. We went to concerts together, went to Cape Cod together, and just generally spent more time together.
A couple of years after college, we drifted apart and didn’t see each other or speak for a few years. I’m not really sure what happened, but I suppose I just didn’t put much effort into it. My mid 20’s were a crazy, selfish, and did I meantion crazy? time of my life. But in 1999, when I was getting ready to be married, I was thinking a lot about her. I was remembering how we always talked about how we would be in each other’s weddings, and I started to realize how much I wanted her there at my wedding. So I sent her an invitation, along with a letter telling her how much I missed her and wanted her to come.
She did come, and suddenly we were in each other’s lives again. And 2 months ago, I was maid of honer at HER wedding.
Here we are last weekend, knitting at Yankee Stadium and trying to be alert for foul balls while the husbands watched the game (me on the left again, her on the right again):
So K is for Kindred spirit, and also for Kim, and for Knitting!