Posted by: shelliejelly | May 1, 2008

When I Was

I met my best friend growing up because I liked her shoes. They were plain red sneakers, and I didn’t think twice about walking up to her and telling her how much I admired them. I may have even told her that I wanted a pair for myself, and if she cared about my copy-cat ways, she didn’t let on. Shortly after I complimented her footwear, I told her my name, and she responded by saying, “I’m Jill.

I’ve learned over the years that memory can be a strange combination of honest recollection and wishful thinking. I don’t know that Jill and I began playing together this same afternoon, but I like to remember the beginning of our friendship as some choose to remember first love: We were instant, inseparable friends.

I have a picture of Jill and I on the day we went to kindergarten together. We weren’t in the same homeroom, she was in the class across the hall from me, but we rode to school together. In the picture, we both have dresses on with knee socks, hard cardboard rectangles printed with our names dangle from our necks. My stringy blond hair is pulled back in a ponytail, hers is clipped to the side with a barrette. Not yet having any experience with photos, or perhaps at the direction of our mothers, we both let our arms hang stiffly at our sides.

The smiles are magic, betraying both excitement and childish nerves. The sun shining down, we were on the verge of getting our first taste of growing up, of knowing without really knowing, perhaps, our independence was at our feet.

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