The new leaves have not unfolded yet, which means on a sunny day like this, my house fills with sunshine. How wonderful to have spring here at last. I did what work I had to do early and then spent the rest of the morning turning over the soil in one of my vegetable gardens, enjoying the feel of sun on my bare forearms. But it seemed too nice of a day to spend alone, so when I sat to rest on the back step, I grabbed the cordless telephone from inside the house.
For an hour, I relaxed in the sun and talked to Kindergarten Friend, someone I have been friends with for forty years. We met in kindergarten and went to school together all the way through until twelfth grade. For years, we spent every Friday night at her house or my house, doing all kinds of silly projects. One time we made bird nests out of dried grasses and mud, dozens of them, and then put them carefully up in the branches of the willow tree on my parents’ front lawn. We also knitted a scarf together, each of us knitting on one end, and sometimes when we went rollerskating on the streets of Railroad Village, the scarf would dangle between us as we tried to knit and rollerskate at the same time. These were the old metal rollerskates that attached to your sneaker: roller blades had not been invented yet. On smooth pavement, they worked well but on rougher pavement, they would vibrate like crazy, until you could feel your teeth knocking together.
We were always making forts. Whole houses from piles of leaves in the fall, snow forts in the winter, and sometimes an indoor fort created by emptying everything out of my parents’ coat closet. In the basement at her house, we created huge forts from old bedsheets and clothes pins, pinning the sheets to furniture and to each other, to create tent-like rooms. We used a complicated system of yarn and duct tape to control everything in the room – we could sit in one place and turn lights on and off, open and shut doors. All of this long before remote controls had been invented.
These memories always come flooding back when I talk to Kindergarten Friend. We catch each other up on family news, since we know each other’s siblings and parents. We talk about our kids. Her husband is someone who went to school with us, so I’ve known him since about kindergarten too – although there were long stretches of time in elementary school when I was too shy talk to boys so naturally I don’t know him as well. Her mother used to teach in the school that With-a-Why goes to – and had both my older kids for fourth grade.
The nice thing about this friendship is that when I talk to Kindergarten Friend, things are always still the same. Oh, we get older, and our siblings do crazy stuff, and her father died, and the world around us changes, but our friendship stays the same. When we talk about her camp in the mountains, a place on a gorgeous lake, she tells me that they have added a new building. I can’t wait to go see this new fort she’s building.