On the first day of kindergarten, I asked a little girl to hold my Cabbage Patch Doll while I put my coat in my cubby. She said, "Sure!" and we both found that we were sitting at Table 4 in Mrs. Bimson's a.m. class. It was 1985. Her name was Wendy. For the next eight years, we were inseparable.
She was the first kid I ever knew who was allowed to make phone calls for fun. My dad used to get a kick out of her timid voice down the line, "Is Angela there?" She lived in an apartment in her old farmhouse. We used to play in "Little House on the Prairie" in the barn and feed vanilla ice cream to the kittens.
She got to keep one. I was so envious. His name was Rascal, and one afternoon we tried to remove his fleas with Smurfmallows. We decided he looked so good blue that we colored his white patches blue with Magic Markers. That poor cat.
She was always my first pick for partners, my Special Interest buddy. She was cool, period. She was allowed to wear jewels around her eyes like the cool chick from Space Camp stuck on with spirit gum. She loved roller skating, R.L. Stine books and sleep-overs. We both played the violin and got identical perms and pink eyeglasses. We went to Claire's Boutique at the mall and got Best Friend necklaces. She got the "Be Fri" half. I got the "st ends" half.
It was the first day of fourth grade.
The curly-haired new girl with the Southern accent was in our grade now. She had been "held back." All she remembered about me was that I had worn my headgear to school one time, one day, the school year before. I never made that mistake again.
We pushed our desks together for indoor recess, and two became three.
It wasn't an idyllic sisterhood. There were other girls, other friends, sleepover cryfests and ganging up on each other and mean girl activity. There were no traveling pants. There was hair spray, though, lots of it, and afternoons at the town pool, lip-syncing to Madonna, and spandex bicycle shorts under skirts.
There were notes folded like triangles, and crushes on boys, phone calls, shared books and "stories." Stories about what our lives would be like when we grew up, the men we would marry. Ironically, I think that my sister married a guy named Tom in our imaginary worlds. Or maybe that was me? Sometimes we were married to our latest 6th-grade crushes.
We wore poodle skirts to go trick-or-treating. They were both in the room when I got my first kiss, and they were the first to see my training bra when my mom and I got back from Penney's.
Our paths diverged in junior high. M-H went the field hockey route and won a coveted seat at the Popular Table before she moved away. I went Band Geek, and Wendy went a different way altogether.
"Wendy P has sent you a message on Facebook," my email inbox says. The last name isn't the one I remember, but I know- as surely I know her birthday was January 12th and that Kirk Cameron was her crush in 1988- that it's her. Within hours, M-H has written on my wall.
And just like that, they're back.