Friday, April 27, 2012

Opposites Make The Best Friends

You and I might never have met if you and Patty Smyth hadn’t been playing Old Maid on her front porch the day my mom sent me to deliver some beautiful pink roses to her mom, who'd been ill.

Fate. That’s what they call it. Destiny. Providence.

It was meant to be.

“Hi,” I said when Patty timidly stated, “This is Karen. She lives next door.” You smiled and asked, “You wanna play?” Shaking my head, I said, “I have to get home. My mom told me to hurry back.” But that would not be our last meeting.

Your family owned property on the street where I lived. The next summer, your father had a nice house built, and you and your family moved into it. My mom often sent me to the small grocery store about two blocks away. I had to pass your house. When I'd go by and see you playing in your yard I'd shyly say, “Hi,” and keep going. But one day, I was riding my bike past your house and you came outside to get yours from the garage. You soon caught up with me and said, “Where ya’ goin’?”

“Nowhere,” I said. “Just riding.” We rode together for a few blocks and then stopped to rest. We sat on the cool grass beside the Methodist church and got acquainted. You said you’d be going into second grade when school started; I was going into the fourth – ahead of most kids my age because I skipped a grade. In those days, that was allowed; I don’t think it is anymore.

That afternoon was just the beginning. We spent almost every day of that summer together. We took walks or rode bikes or just sat on one of our porches talking. Sometimes we sat on the banks of the river watching paddle boats go by. A lifelong friendship was born.

I was seven. You were six and a half. My hair was brown, yours, blonde. I had green eyes and olive skin; you were fair-skinned and blue-eyed; I was tall and thin; you were short and chunky... and hated it! Urged on by your younger brother, boys teased you about being fat. I thought you were cute. I almost envied your thick, naturally curly hair; mine was stick-straight and so baby-fine it wouldn’t hold curl. I felt skinny and awkward beside you. You secretly longed to look like me.

We had a mutual admiration thingy going on from the beginning.

After school started in the fall, we didn’t see each all day, and we had other friends, but when we got home to 96th Street around three p.m., we couldn’t wait to get together again.

And so it went. We grew up together, surviving the ups and downs of childhood, teenage years, boyfriends, proms, springs, summers, falls, winters. I can’t even think of a time in my life when you weren’t in it. We both married young, had children, and you moved away – far away – but we've stayed in touch. I always know when it’s time for us to talk – and so do you. It’s just a matter of who dials whose number first. We literally read each other’s thoughts.

Now in the autumn of our years, we both have grandchildren; your husband passed away, but you’ve found another “love.” You always take life as it comes—bloom where you’re planted.

That’s one of the things I admire most about you. I fight change and am miserable when it’s forced upon me, but you welcome it and become a happier person. It was never just the color of our hair, eyes and complexion – or stature that made us different. We are opposite in many ways. But it didn’t seem to matter. We’ve been the best of friends for more than half a century!

Last week, you sent me a birthday card. Inside it read: “We’ll always be good for each other.”

You signed it, “Love you!”

My heart answered, “Ditto.”

I'm sure you heard it.


Denise said...

What a sweet story peggy. How nice it must be to have a close friend like that. I envy you. I never did.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post! love it.

sam said...

nice post peg as always. sam

Jeanette said...

This is adorable! The way you tell of your differences in looks as well as personalities is so so good! i love this post peggy! Jeanette

Jim said...

This is very different from your usual posts --- but I like it very much, I had to reaad it twice to understand it. Very nice!

Susan said...

I love this peg. You describe a long friendship with such passion. I can feel your love for Karen--and hers for you. Nice.

Anonymous said...

Very nice. I have one of those soul mates best friends, too. Though we live far away from each other, when we get together, it's like we've never been apart. It's a precious, precious thing.

Steph said...

Nice tribute. I have a friend similar to your relationship. It's nice, very nice.

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