April 18, 2006

Forty years

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.

16 comments:

kathy a said...

oh, what a fabulous friendship!

there are a few people i've known since i was 5-6-7, aside from my siblings. it is amazing to get together with them, because we know each other's families, have a lot of memories together.

time to get together again. thanks.

liz said...

What kathy said.

peripateticpolarbear said...

How cool to know someone for so long.

Queen of West Procrastination said...

Sometime soon, I need to blog about my group of "sister," friends I've had since I was born, and who know me better than I know myself.

My poor husband can't fathom having known people for so long. (It was also intimidating for him to first get to know them, as a group, but they adopted him instantly.)

Leslee said...

I have a couple of friends from my early childhood. One since she was born, we send birthday and christmas cards, and the other since second grade.

I charish these friendships much like you!

listmaker said...

How wonderful to have such a long lasting friendship.

Rev Dr Mom said...

I am so impressed that you still have a friend who dates back to kindergarten days. It's so cool.

KathyR said...

Agreed that it's amazing that you still know folks from that age.

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I have a friend from 5th grade. We have the same kinds of talks over lunch since we've been back where we grew up. I'm dreading telling her hubby has a job in flat state, as she knows we'll go back there eventually and that will make her sad...

kabbage said...

Oh, yes. Forts out of couch cushions and ratty little kid blankets, where the blankets were often anchored by books. Great fun!

My longest term friend and I met when we were 16 and initially loathed one another. Thank heavens we worked past that in the first week. I saw her for the first time in many years earlier this year, and it was marvelous. We picked up the beat of our friendship with nary a hiccup, integrating her husband and kids with no problem. As you say, "our friendship stays the same."

I am wondering about knitting on the same scarf though. I think perhaps one started and progressed a bit before the other picked up the initial stitches and headed the other way? Otherwise, I don't see how you would do it.

mom2bjm said...

My longest friend is my 2nd grade teacher! I moved during the middle of that school year, and she wrote to me and I to her. She still has some of the letters that I wrote. She now lives near my in-laws in another state, so when we go to visit we try to find time to visit her.

SHe is now a friend also to my children - sending them postcards from her trips, remembering them on their birthdays, and sending special treats on the holidays - they love her too!

Yankee T said...

I have three friends from 41 years ago, although that's just freshman year of high school for me. We moved too much when I was a kid. But both Older and Younger Daughters have friends since kindergarten, and OD and her best friend are planning to go to college 5 miles apart. I encourage both girls to communicate with Kindergarten friends frequently so that when they're 45, they'll have what you have. Great post.

Mona Buonanotte said...

Oh, the fort-building! I was just tickled pink when my kids insisted on breaking out chairs, blankets, and pillows to make forts in the living room last winter! My grown-up-sized-body made it nearly impossible for me to play inside it, so I acted as architect and cookie-bringer.

BeachMama said...

How awesome. I have a couple of friends I have known since Kindergarten and then a few I met later that I still hang out with. It is so great that although some things change, some stay the same. And I miss fort building, can't wait to build some with "J".

Rana said...

What a wonderful friend to share such a childhood with! :)

Because we moved so often when I was a child, neither I nor my brother have had such friends, except for with the children of a family our family has been friends with since we were infants. (I call them my virtual cousins.) We rarely lived in the same places growing up, so we didn't bond in that day-to-day way, but did see each other often enough over the years that we've come to feel like family.

It's interesting thinking about how things might have been different if we'd grown up together in only one place.

jo(e) said...

kabbage: Yeah, that is what we did. She started the scarf and then we just picked up stitches from the edge.

One time someone asked us why we were knitting just one scarf instead of two, and my friend said, "Because we only had one ball of yarn."

For some reason, we both thought that was hilarious because of course we were using two balls of yarn ....