Michelle and I met at the nascent age of 3, and at first our friendship was one of pure convenience; after all she did live right across the street from me. But as the years passed, our connection grew from toddler playdates to a cherished lifelong friendship.
Both of our childhood homes rimmed the opposite edges of a cul-de-sac, encompassing all the homes in between. There our homes stood in a friendly face-off, with windows like eyes peering at each other. Like two best friends.
On Sunday afternoon, Allie and I walked hand in hand as we took the roundabout path from my childhood home to Michelle’s. Our commute took all of two minutes, but it allowed me enough time to share with little Allie the story of how our mothers forbade us from crossing the street directly (God no!). Instead we had to tirelessly run our little bodies along the perimeter of the circle, and we always arrived at each other’s homes a bit breathless, but always excited.
Walking up the driveway leading to Michelle’s house, I stopped momentarily to show Allie the weathered street sign above. It still had the riddles and rivets from the b-b gun wounds we had inflicted upon it as children.
“And do you see that Allie?” I said while pointing to the pillars on the front porch.
“One time I climbed all the way to the top…and I couldn’t get down. I cried and screamed until Michelle’s Nana came out to help me.”
Allie giggled at the silly thought of her mama climbing up the pole.
“And look at this!” I took a berry off of a bush. “We used to take these berries and mash them up. Then we’d use them to draw on the cement.”
Allie’s face brightened with pleasure. She was enjoying my stories, and she was fascinated by the mere fact that I was once little like her.
I have so many more stories to share with my daughter. I want to tell her all about the time Michelle and I spilled nail polish remover on her mom’s antique table or how we used to hide in her parents’ closet. Someday I’ll even dare to tell her how we used to sneak out to see our boyfriends in the wee hours. I have thirty year’s worth of stories that I so eagerly want to share with her, and it will take another lifetime for all of them to unfold.
As we finally entered Michelle’s house, I saw her sitting on the couch. She turned to greet me, and I was suddenly overwhelmed. For an instant, a wee moment, I expected (I so wanted) to see my childhood friend. The three year old who sucked her thumb. Or the precocious seven year old with missing teeth. The rebellious teen with spiked hair.
But instead I saw her as a woman in all her pregnant glory, ripe with a tiny, precious life tucked inside her burgeoning belly. Beneath these physical changes, she was still my Michelle. Her warm smile, her happy hug. I felt touched by it all. And as I embraced her, I felt the strength of three decades of friendship.