I was extremely lucky to have lived in the same two-story house my entire childhood. Not only was nearly my entire extended family within a ten mile radius, but I developed lifelong friendships. With back-to-school sales, and little kids with oversize backpacks clutching their parents hands everywhere I look, I have been thinking of my longest running friend. I met Kristine when I was five, which means I’ve known her for twenty-four years and counting, and she is the person I have put in charge to rescue (and burn) my hidden teenage diaries should I ever die unexpectedly. (They’re buried in a box at the very top of my closet at my parent’s house. Don’t read them. Also, love the crimped bang look. Very 80’s. Says the girl in the outrageously hideous shorts. Seriously, what was my-seven year old self thinking?)
Kristine and I met in kindergarten; well actually, our mom’s met when we were in kindergarten. They had some sort of babysitting swap for the younger siblings. Kristine’s mom made cookies for my brother to eat, and my mom taught Diane how to clean toilets properly. I guess she was teaching Diane the kind of skills every mother hopes for their three-year-old daughter. Now, Kristine and I weren’t exactly friends in kindergarten. I believe we tolerated each other. But, somewhere in the past two and a half decades we developed a deeper friendship than many can only hope for.
Our families became close friends, partly because of the friendships of our parents, partly because Kristine and I often found each other in the same circles. I have very few childhood memories that don’t include this family in some way. Brownies. Soccer. Coronado. Houseboat. Cross-County. NCL. Somewhere down the line, Kristine and I became friends, best friends even. I can’t remember the exact moment, but it happened. Somewhere between the silly stunts we pulled, the millions of games of Uno, the times we accidentally (and purposely) hurt each other’s feelings, sleepovers, long runs and double dates we became friends.
This picture was taken in August 1998, the night before I left for college in Sacramento - the two families having dinner together. (I almost didn’t post this picture because my mom and I seem to be wearing matching outfits. Again, what was my 18-year-old-self thinking?) Our dad’s asked the same question, which everyone else asked: Did we really think that we could continue our friendship through college? There was no doubt in our minds. We had a system, you see, a phone call every Sunday night. Little did we know that 10 years later, Kristine would be living 14 miles from my first college apartment, and I would be living 14 miles from her college apartment. Ironic, no? But, that’s been our relationship, long-distance at its finest. In all 13 years of primary and secondary schooling, we only had one other class together in high school. Our colleges were 500 miles apart, graduate schools across countries, study abroad programs. And yet, we have still maintained a friendship. We have our ups and downs, just like any relationship lasting as long as ours.
I had always hoped that one day we’d grow up, get married, have families and live in the city. I understand, now, this will probably never be a reality. But, no matter what happens, I know that we’ll always be friends. Now that we’re married, and life is going at a lightening-fast speed, I realize that we can’t just run out for frozen yogurt (our idea of a crazy time in high school), go cruising for boys and have sugar-fueled sleepovers. I’ve started thinking about how in six years, my baby will be as old as I was when I met my best friend. I wonder if it’ll tell Auntie Kristine about their secret first crush, or dread when Auntie makes them sugar-free chocolate chip cookies without the actual chocolate chips. I wonder if Kristine and I will stay so close, and continue our weekly (or bi-monthly, these days) chats, when we have a whole new person to look after and keep alive.
These days, when my Dad send pictures of the four of us, or when I come face-to-face with an old memory, I feel like it’s almost part of a past life. A life that once existed, but was a fleeting moment. Which is sort of true. My hope is that one day, this new little generation will have a friend like I: one it can count on in good hair days and bad, ex-boyfriend heartbreaks and wedding-day jitters, Golden Spoon frozen yogurt runs and heart-to-heart talks and understand just how lucky they are.