My best friend is coming to visit me from Baltimore tomorrow, and I am more excited than before Christmas morning! Before she arrives, I thought I would give you all a glimpse into the beginning of our friendship…
When Courtney and I met, we were six years old, waiting for the big yellow school bus to pick us up for our first day of first grade. I had my hair in a high ponytail fountain with my bangs curled under, and was wearing a white turtle neck with a red and black plaid dress that my grandmother had made my sister, Amanda, and I. Black patent leather shoes with white frilly socks completed the outfit.
My sister, being eight years old and in third grade, opted for something a bit different and more hip than the plaid dress. This being the late eighties, Amanda decided on stone washed jeans and a studded white and pink sweatshirt with the words Awesome and Totally Rad sprawled across the front in puffy paint. Courtney’s sister, Lindsey, was a grade above Amanda and a year older, but I don’t remember what she wore. Courtney’s hair hadn’t quite grown into the long curls that she had now, and was combed straight into a bob with two pieces pulled up perfectly. She was wearing a navy blue pleated skirt with a button down freshly pressed white collared shirt. She could have been straight out of a catalogue.
She was a good girl. In fact, the best girl I had ever met; doing everything her mother asked of her, never wanting to get her clothes messed up, and always working on her homework. I, on the other hand, was the opposite. I wasn’t a bad kid, but I had an opinion about everything, I tested my boundaries at every chance, and never did homework until the morning of. She was an extremely sensitive little girl, while I was thick skinned and a tomboy.
At our first meeting, we got along infamously, still worrying about the niceties that come with not knowing someone very well that somehow even children pick up on. We weren’t in any of the same classes, so our meetings were strictly at the morning bus, recess and briefly after school. That is, until my stay-at-home mother agreed to host the children of the working mothers at our house after school everyday. We had a large five bedroom house with an acre backyard, a jungle gym and an outdoor swimming pool. It had everything for kids our age, and Courtney arrived after school everyday from then on.
Courtney and I learned to hate each other the first year, at least as much as six year olds can hate each other. Everyday we would fight about something, whether it was who played Brad or Melody in Hey Dude or what dance routine we would practice. At one point, my mother told us “I have never seen two girls who butt heads as much as you two do.” Courtney ran home to her mother crying and said that my mother had called her a ‘butt head.’ We still laugh at that to this day.
The day it sunk in how close we had become was two years later when I got the devastating news we would be moving three hours north to New Jersey. The old saying “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” was learnt at a very early age. No more dance routines, no more New Year’s Eve performances, no more running across the street to play with my best friend, no more sleep overs or early morning chinese jump rope, no more weekends spent baking cakes or riding bikes. Just a new cold school with new kids who didn’t particularly like new students coming in. And none of the other friends I met got me like Courtney finally did once we had broken through our stubborn facades.
The next time it sunk in how much she meant to me was when we moved back to Baltimore two years later, and her mom proceeded to move across the street from us again, on a different street – Willow Avenue. Both of our families had become broken since the last time we lived across from the other. My mom was a single woman again once she realized she needed love to make a marriage work, and her mom was single once she realized she couldn’t stay married to an alcoholic. Amanda and Lindsey became even closer as rebellious teens, and our mothers as single, hot, forty year old moms. We were a strong group of women who relied on the others for laughter and consolation.