June 26, 2019
I met my best friend, Dani, when I was in second grade. We were in Mr. Buehecker’s class at Vail Pittman Elementary School. I’m not sure exactly how we paired up. Maybe we were table buddies. Maybe we made friends at the bike rake. Maybe we ate lunch together. Maybe it was the red hair and freckles. However it happened, we became close and fast friends. Inseparable.
Dani and spent almost every weekend together, trading off houses for most of our elementary school years together and almost all the summers we could spare. Any time apart never seemed to matter, we would just pick up from where we left off.
We wanted to be so close like sisters, we became blood sisters, sealed in a pack by exchanged blood. We tied off our fingers with string or a rubber band and used a needle to puncture the skin until droplets of blood formed. Then, we smeared the blood together with our fingers, promising to be sisters forever. We must of done this a ton of times. At least twenty times. Our fingers were all pricked. I don’t know if the teachers caught us, but at some point we stopped doing it. Maybe to save our fingers, or we just decided we had shared enough blood. I’m sure we have exchanged enough blood that we are indeed blood sisters.
We played with our Cabbage Patch Dolls. We played with mud pies. She had an excellent set up on the side of her house where the mud caked into discs of mud we could use as plates. She wasn’t afraid of getting dirty. We’d play and play. We’d color. We both liked art.
Dani and I rode bikes together. We attempted to ride skateboards, mostly we carried them and tried to look cool. We spent a lot of time in the swimming pool, even in the winter, with our lips turning blue. We were huge water babies.
Her mom, Jamie, would take us to her grandmother’s senior living home and we would play in the pool all summer. We would be the only kids, since it was a senior living community. We were good kids and didn’t make too much noise. Dani was able to dive into the pool and I was always in awe. I couldn’t do that, so I just jumped in. She was so elegant.
Dani and I spent all our time together. We watched Daniel Russo fight in the Karate Kid and thought he was dreamy. We practiced the crane kick in one of rooms.
Dani always wanted to see how much I loved her and tested me constantly. One night, while I was staying at her house, we were sleeping in a full sized bed. It was kinda high up off the ground for an eight year old. I remember having to kind of jump to get into it. I had built a fort in the closet, a cubby to sleep in. Dani was sleeping in the bed. At some point during the night, Dani had rolled off the bed and onto the floor, she was out cold. I was either not asleep or it woke me up.
I got out of bed, lugged her back into bed. She was not light by any means, and put her back to bed, she was still asleep. I went back to my cubby. A few minutes later, she rolled out of bed again. Whap! Hit the floor. I folded my blankets back, got out of my cubby, and proceeded to put her back to bed. I got her tucked back in bed. This time I tucked the blanket under the mattress so she couldn’t roll out of it. I had just got back into bed and snuggled down when. Whap! Again, she hit the floor. She still appeared to be asleep. Exasperated, I got up and lifted her sleeping, dead weight body, back into bed. Tucked her in and went back to my cubby.
No sooner had I tucked myself in bed, did she rolled out and fall again. This time I left her there and I went to sleep. At some point, she got up and put herself to bed. Years later, she told me that she wanted to see how many times I would put her back to bed. She was testing me to see what a good friend I was. I guess I passed.
Dani had this great black and gold furniture. At some point, we decided we could play detectives. We purposely put fingerprints on places, then made up a story about murder or something, then lifted our finger prints with baby powder and tape. I thought it was quite inventive. I don’t remember the story going very far. We didn’t play that game too often. It kind of ended once you lifted the finger prints. But I remember listening to Fleetwood Mac as we sleuthed our way through an evening.
Going to Dani’s house, I ate all kinds of new foods. At my house we had whole wheat bread, very little sugar and sweats. At Dani’s house we had sugar cereal, Kool-Aid, pudding and a host of other things. Dani’s mom was a most excellent cook. I had hominy for the first time. She made a tomato and pepper salad with garlic. My mom detested garlic and would always make a comment about my breath when I came home from Dani’s house. Garlic was in most of the foods I ate at Dani’s I loved it.
As we got older, we spent more time at Dani’s house. We were less supervised and could get away with more. We drank and smoked. We also walked around everywhere. We spent copious amounts of time at the mall. We would walk miles around town in miniskirts and count how many cat calls we would get. It did wonders for the twelve year old ego.
As the years went on, Dani and her mom grew to have troubles living together. Jamie was an alcoholic and had not become sober yet. Dani left around 7th grade to go live with her dad in Montana.
Dani was in Las Vegas, primarily during the summer and I spent all my waking time with her. We got into trouble together too. Mostly about boys. But we just enjoyed each other’s company. This was also the summer we tried to make Dani one giant freckle by lying out in the sun, sunbathing. While, I could tan and turn dark with the sun, Dani would burn bright red and get more freckles. Our goal was to turn her into one giant freckle so she would be all brown. It was a thought but not a good one. During the summer, Dani traveled with us to Colorado and we spent time at Wet-N-Wild the water park.
But too soon, her time ended and we were left to write letters during the school year. We were both very bad about writing letter. Sometimes we did, sometimes we didn’t. There were calls sometimes but very rarely. This continued for years, until Dani got pregnant as a teenager and got married. Our letters and phone calls were fewer but when she came to visit, we picked up right where we left off. Inseparable.
I got pregnant and had my own son as a teenager. Our kids played together, mine eating the crayons. We still just enjoyed each other’s company. It was always hard seeing each other go.
There were long droughts of communications. Seems like years would go by without knowing what was happening in each other’s life. I would visit Jamie, Dani’s mom and she would give me some details. Sometimes I would get a letter, sometimes I would call, sometimes she would call. It would be brief, but we’d catch up and then we’d move on. That was how it was back then. Phone calls were expensive. We were poor and could not afford that shit. We made due.
As we grew into adults and had our families, we started visiting each other. Once I had my career as a teacher, I began to visit during the summers and she would sometimes visit Vegas to see her mom. We talked more frequently.
I flew out when her son was sick. I couldn’t stay but I had to be with her. When my brother killed himself, she drove all night to be with me.
She is my heart. I am hers.
Now that technology is what it is, we talk once a week, even if it is about nothing. We talk about the garden, my meds, my parents, the dogs, the kids, whatever. We talk. We pick up wherever we left off. Time doesn’t exist in our world. It doesn’t pass. The only thing we feel is how long it’s been since we have been able to hug each other and see each other in person. She is my person. She has been since I was eight. I love her.