Can I come over to your house?

Best friends

A sweet thing happened recently in my blogging world.

My childhood best friend, Carol, suddenly appeared with a comment on my Neil Armstrong tribute post!  What do you know!

(The tribute talked about Carol and me sleeping out in my parent’s backyard apple orchard in 1969.  We looked up at the moon in amazement trying to imagine man walking up there on that mysterious white orb.)

Friends

Carol and I grew up together.  She lived one street over and it only took three minutes if you ran through our neighbor’s back yard.  We were both so shy.  Afraid to talk in school, scared of our own shadows sometimes.

Big 6th grade boys pointed paper guns at us as we walked to kindergarten and we ran all the way back home, petrified of imminent death.

A long time ago and far away…

“Can I come over to your house?” we would ask.  “Can I come over to your house today?”

We were inseparable through Brownies and 4-H and walking to the library and playing games and…well, you know how it is with best friends in elementary school.

So many memories

I can remember attending a Girl Scout sleepover,  huddled away in the corner, probably reassuring one another that we could make it through the night in spite of shyness, feeling a bit apart from the other girls who ran laughing and squealing around the cement-floored building.

In 6th grade we traveled together to junior high and wrapped the teacher around our little fingers and he let us do wild things like escape at lunchtime to walk leisurely home.  We crossed the frozen Mill Creek and luxuriated with our tuna fish or bologna sandwiches before returning to school where we aced our classes easily.

Friends listening to fire trucks at a parade

Then arrived 7th grade.  Carol, always the elder by six months, grew up faster than I.  Suddenly she fit in with all the other students and found–gasp!–a boyfriend, whom she eventually married and, yes, they’re still married to prove junior high love stories can come true.

I felt abandoned and shyer than ever.  Impossible to fit in with the smiling, laughing confident kids.  Impossible to know what to say, what to do, how to make friends.  I grew quieter, watching her grow more assured.  I suddenly felt all alone.

Let me out, let me out. Please let me out.

It was not Carol’s fault.  Nor was it mine.  We were suddenly in different orbits, spinning toward our separate destinies.

It was a sad, quiet, painful year.  I made friends with the shyest of shy students. Tried to figure out how to operate in this new impossible world.

Of course so many of us flounder as we approach adolescence.  We must re-assess, grow up, learn a different set of rules. We learn to engage with our peers.  We learn to navigate through teenage waters, how to gain confidence, how to steer into our personal selves.

It’s a learning time.

Learning how to be your own person

Slowly, as junior high–and then high school unfolded–I found a wider circle of friends. Christie and Pattijo and Karen and others.  Eventually found a boyfriend for a year or so and began to grow up.  That elusive confidence began to blossom at age fifteen.  It was a tough few years, which fortunately didn’t leave too deep scars.

Carol and I never really regained the inseparable closeness of our elementary years.  The Universe gave us different paths to walk, yet we’ve intermittently stayed in touch with that bright white moon shining over us.

Years later, oh so many years later, when Barry and I lived 500 miles north in the woods, I learned that Carol gave birth to her firstborn–a baby boy–within four hours of the birth of my firstborn.

It felt right, somehow.

Best buddies

We’ve visited a few times when I return to my hometown and a couple of years ago we meandered through the streets of Yale reminiscing and telling stories.

Fast-forward to now.  Carol discovered my blog through the Universe , can you believe it?  As some of you remember, I visited Bree  in Mackinac Island last June.  It turns out that one of Bree’s dedicated blog readers is Carol’s Uncle Paul.  Uncle Paul must have clicked over to this blog–and alerted Carol that her childhood friend was yammering on a blog.  So Carol drops in, my goodness, this is a small world, isn’t it?

Friends? Sisters?

Yesterday she commented:  How many verses did we memorize for Mrs. Story? What poem did you recite at the program? I had a dream about you and the poem Abou Ben Adhem, strange…. Do you remember what I recited? When can I come over to your house? So many questions and I have many more!

Isn’t that sweet?  OK, before wrapping up this long-ago memory, I have to tell you about Mrs. Story.  Mrs. Story was our 3rd grade teacher.  She made us memorize poem after poem after poem.  (Mrs. Story was actually the main person responsible for kindling my love of writing, and hence blogging…)

Pink–with flowers–for you, Carol

Since Carol’s comment yesterday I have been thinking about the poem Abou Ben Adhem.  It’s haunting words fill my heart.  I cried when reading it yesterday.  I shall leave you with it now:

Abou Ben Adhem

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said
“What writest thou?”—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered “The names of those who love the Lord.”
“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still, and said “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.

–James Henry Leigh Hunt

Did YOU have a best friend in elementary school?  Are you still in contact?  Do you miss him or her?

Life is a twirl, isn’t it? Enjoy it, girls!

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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78 Responses to Can I come over to your house?

  1. what a wonderful post — you give a lot of yourself and that is so appreciated —

  2. Kerry Dwyer says:

    Oh this brought back memories Kathy. I don’t remember elementary school but I am in touch with so few people from my educative years – even from University. And yes I do miss them.
    You can come over to my house any time you like.

  3. amazing
    the poem is also lovely. i have never read it before

  4. jeffstroud says:

    What a beautiful story/memory! I love the photographs that capture those moments!

    The wonder of the universe!

    No I didn’t have best friends in school! My friends best friend was Mike, who has been married to my xwife for the last 30 years. Yes we are still in contact.

    • Kathy says:

      Jeff, thank goodness the Universe provided some pictures from the past five years of friendships. I am glad you liked this. And it’s lovely that you have extended your friendship outward from your ex-wife. (If that makes sense.) I did not know you were married before!!

  5. Susan D. says:

    This is a lovely post. The coming full-circle is divine in the lives of you and Carol. Love it. Love the poem, too. My parents were gypsies so we moved about every two years. I learned to make friends but never had one with whom to share the year-to-year joys and changes. When I went to college, I discovered two girls with whom I’d gone to elementary school in one city were living on the very same floor in my dorm! I was tickled and excited. Unfortunately, they barely remembered me, but they were pleasant enough. We each have such different recollections, and different powers of recollection, I suppose. Your post has brought up some interesting feelings. Thank you, Kathy, as always!

    • Kathy says:

      Susan, I can’t imagine living with gypsies! lol…I would have been so scared to have to make so many new friends. We all do have some different recollections. I am sure Carol’s are totally different than mine. So sorry that you weren’t able to kindle a deep friendship with your old elementary pals in your dorm. Life is interesting…I cease to try to figure out the whys and wherefores. Thank you for enjoying this.

  6. kristrange says:

    Facebook has allowed these once long lost connections to stay connected. But those few people who do not use FB are always in the back of my mind.

    • Kathy says:

      Kristange, that is surely one of the positive benefits of Facebook, isn’t it? And yet there are others we wonder about… Thank you for commenting.

  7. sybil says:

    As soon as I saw the title “Abu Ben Adam”, my mind automatically filled in “may his tribe increase” as I too studied this poem in school.

    My childhood best friend was Betty, who lived over my back fence. She was my closest, bestest friend. In our early twenties, Betty moved to Vancouver. We vaguely kept in touch. Last year Betty came for a week-long visit. We had lived long lives apart. Had husbands, had children (one each) divorced. But during that one-week visit, it was as if the intervening 35 years were a blip. Our reunion wasn’t about that blip, but about the children we were together. That comfort remained. That joy in each other’s company remained.

    What a lovely post Kathy.

    Would you believe I was very shy as a kid and teen ?

    • Kathy says:

      Sybil, YOU studied it, TOO? Wow, that’s cool! My original title had the words “Abou Ben Adam” in it and Barry said, “Abou Who? What are you talking about? No one is going to read this!” (And he was probably right, Mr. Editor that he is.) Loved your story about Betty and your visit last year. How very lovely! And yes, I would believe about you being shy. We probably would have been shy friends in 7th grade.

  8. Brenda Hardie says:

    What a delightful story Kathy 🙂 I have not heard the poem before…thank you for sharing it. I did not have any best friends in elementary school. Didn’t until I was in 6th grade when I changed schools. (bully issue at the previous school) It’s really refreshing to hear of someone who has had happy memories of elementary school.

    • Kathy says:

      I am SO sorry to hear about your bully issue, Brenda. I am frowning really hard now at those bullies and…OK…trying to forgive them in my heart for hurting that sweet little child. Glad to hear that 6th grade brought you friendship. That’s a success story, for sure! Love, Kathy

  9. susan blake says:

    Hi Kathy,
    I love how the universe works! Good for you! What fun to re-kindle and stroll down memory lane. Can’t say I have ever gone back that far with “reunions”. As I get older, the chances of that happening grow dimmer but on second thought my best friends were the animals on the farm anyway. You talk about solitude! I had a bit of it.
    Hugs
    SuZen

    • Kathy says:

      How fun to have best animal friends, SuZen~~I’ll bet they loved you unconditionally, too. Solitude, I think, helps us develop certain qualities, while friendship develops others. Who knows what reunions are in your future? 🙂

  10. lisaspiral says:

    Can I come over to your house? wow. Isn’t it funny how those words still touch the heart of the little girl inside? It’s sad when we grow up and move away from the simple things that held us together as young kids. It’s great to find that now even with very different lives and interests we can still at least be friends. I’m so glad that you’ve found each other again.

    • Kathy says:

      Lisa, it’s wonderful that this simple little story touched many little-girl hearts still beating in our older bodies. It brings tears sometimes, doesn’t it? The simple words “Can I come over to your house?” Thank you.

  11. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Such a sweet, sad and touching story! The best thing the internet has accomplished, in my mind, is the old and new connections it allows. I love this…thank you!

  12. Carol says:

    We never lived in one place long enough for me to have a long-term childhood friend. How neat that Carol found you again!

    • Kathy says:

      Carol, maybe the reason I like you is because, well, you’re Carol? So you were one of those that moved around? Have you stayed in one place as an adult, or moved around a lot?

  13. Barb says:

    Gosh – your post brought tears to my eyes, Kathy, and that poem. To lose someone and then find them again is something of a miracle. A few years ago people from my past began contacting me. It felt strange to make these new connections with old acquaintances. We are deeply connected to our past even when we’ve moved what seems like eons away from it. I’m thinking of you this week – and your son’s big day.

    • Kathy says:

      Did the poem bring tears to your eyes, Barb? Gosh, I cried the other day when re-reading it. Don’t know if it was the memories that caused the tears or the poem itself. Barry kept looking at me like I was, well, you know… Glad you’ve had that connection with old acquaintances. It is sweet, isn’t it?

  14. Heather says:

    You know I just LOVE a friendship rekindling story! How sweet! How awesome! How divine! I also love the connection you shared throughout your lives 🙂
    Middle school can be so tough to navigate. I’m glad I’m not still there. Great pictures of friends. And now, I must tell you that I was up waaaaay tooooo late last night, went to bed hungry, and am now ravenous for a tuna sandwich!

    • Kathy says:

      I love your adjectives, Heather! Sweet, awesome, divine! tee hee…Yep, middle school, errr…. Wouldn’t it be awful to still be there? Hope you enjoyed your tuna sandwich. I am sorry I won’t be visiting your blog for a while. Headed west, you know…

  15. Charlotte says:

    My family moved in the middle of my 5th grade year. I made friends with Carol, Elaine, Judy, Pat, and JoAnn. In a few weeks I will travel to OK to help Pat and her husband celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. As 16 year olds we added one new person, Carolyn, to our group. To this day we remain best friends, meeting at least once a month for dinner. Many months we meet more often than that. Through the years some of us have lived in places other than our home town. But always remained best friends. I’m so happy you have reconnected with your best friend from elementary school.

    • Kathy says:

      Charlotte, how VERY COOL that you will help a 5th grade friend celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary!! How many people can say that? How many people can say they meet with a childhood best friend once a month for dinner? You are very lucky. My heart thrills for you.

  16. How marvelous that you have become reacquainted with your childhood friend – and to think you and she had firstborns only hours apart!

    I have a few with whom I have lost touch over the years, but my best friends are still my best friends, no matter where they live. Some I’ve known for over half a century! We visit when we can and email, or Facebook, or even use the telephone to initiate long conversations as if time and space were meaningless.

    It’s good to have friends like that. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Withershins, that was darn AMAZING that we had our firstborns within four hours of one another. So cool. You are lucky to say that you’ve had friends for over half a century. That is so wonderful. (P.S. I have heard some spiritual folk say that time and space ARE meaningless. Who knows? **grin**)

  17. CMSmith says:

    This sweetest of posts brought tears to my eyes. Yes. The universe is good.

  18. Kathy – I loved reading this story! And thank goodness for Uncle Paul and the Universe. Goodness sakes, it is, indeed, a small world after all.

    And yes, thanks to Facebook, I’ve re-connected with several elementary, junior, and high school friends.

    • Kathy says:

      Laurie, you are so right. Thank goodness for Uncle Paul. He’s a cool one! And thank goodness for Facebook. (I didn’t say that, did I?)

  19. Karma says:

    Such cute photos representing friendship, and a nice small-world story too. Say what you will about the ills of Facebook and such, but it is nice to find people again that you otherwise would have forgotten about. Luckily I have never lost touch with my childhood best friend. She was a bridesmaid at my wedding (and I at hers) and is my daughter’s godmother. She lives about an hour and a half away so we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like, but do see each other every few months.

    • Kathy says:

      I have spoken about the ills of Facebook, Karen. **smiling** But FB does offer so many people an opportunity to reconnect to long-lost friends. How wonderful that you have not lost touch with your childhood best friend! How very sweet. I am smiling again.

  20. How great to reconnect with childhood friends. Love the old photos! Great story, Kath!
    Hugs,
    Kathy

  21. Val says:

    Lovely post, Kathy. And I’m glad you’re still in touch with your friend even if you both did drift apart a bit from time to time.

    I had three good friends in primary school. I’m in touch on and off with two of them, though not as often as I could be. The third – I don’t know what happened to her, we lost touch when I left that school, but I remember her clearly and she and I were also square pegs in round holes, we’d sit at the back of the playground on a log there, when other children were playing, and we’d discuss things – all kinds of things, the universe, life, our imaginations roaming. I was very fond of her. I did try to find her for a while but have a feeling that, really, she doesn’t want to be found, so I left it. Also I have been in touch with a few other friends from that school and they’ve got in touch and then just suddenly vanished again. That hurts, even now, so I’m less inclined to go hunting for my log-sharing friend.

    • Kathy says:

      Val, I actually had a lovely mental picture of you two square pegs in round holes discussing the Universe on the playground while many of the other children screamed and laughed and ran around. So wonderful that you two had one another’s company at that young age. I keep thinking how some of our friends were meant for a year, others a decade, others a night, others a lifetime. And to be able to smile and let go of those who vanish or seek other shores.

  22. Wow, this post certainly opens the floodgate of memories . . . touched me on many levels. Thank you. ~ Kat

  23. retiredruth says:

    Lovely story …. My best friend and I have never lived more than 20 miles apart although while raising our families we did not spend much time together…. happy to say we are now seeing more of each other ….. childhood bonds continue….

    • Kathy says:

      Ruth, it is just fascinating how some of us continue our friendships and others choose to seek other shores. Glad you and your best friend have re-united after your years of raising children.

  24. Yes I had a best friend Holly, she is now suffering from Colon Cancer…..I love her dearly to this day. Although in later years we were apart and went diffenrent path, I always remember the times we had, sleepovers, walking together, summer vacations, getting in trouble together, platng ball together, all kinds of other things i bet, and dressing up for halloween together. I have known her and her sister since I was born, although I have no sisters, they are so much in my heart every day.

    • Kathy says:

      Oh, Kim, I am so sorry to hear about your best friend! That is so sad. It must be so challenging to have a sister suffering like this. Hugs… and blessings for Holly.

  25. Dawn says:

    Yes I did have a childhood best friend. She’s gone now..but we had a lot of very happy adventures and stayed friends until the day she died. Now that I think about it, we stayed friends even after that.

    • Colleen says:

      Bless all the Mrs. Storys, past and present! I lost touch with my childhood/school friends when I (gasp) moved to Vancouver to continue school. And then stayed to get married and live on the coast. Most of these old friends are still living in the same area (where we all grew up together) and when our paths cross it sometimes feels a bit strange. Like looking back into another lifetime.

      • Kathy says:

        Colleen, aren’t you so right? Bless the Mrs. Storys who kindle us with a fire! I do know what you mean about crossing paths with those we grew up with. I have felt a bit strange with all of it, too. In fact, I wonder if I will attend any more high school reunions? I would rather have reunions with special friends, like Carol and Pattijo and Christie.

    • Kathy says:

      Dear Dawn, feeling sadness that your childhood best friend has passed on. I am glad that you were friends until she died…and, yes, even now… Blessings…

  26. sonali says:

    How lovely that the two good old friends meet up, somehow, via the technical world!
    Our world is so small. It must be great to know how both of you must have gone through your life’s journey, when once upon a time you both were best of sugary friends.
    I so love the poem. Absolutely wonderful wordings. Do you think my name is also listed on a book of gold? I will pray to write my name as well, and yours too Kathy! 🙂
    sweet love…

    • Kathy says:

      Sonali, you have the sweetest soul/spirit! I love your words, too. “Sugary friends”. That is so wonderful. I am 100% certain that your name is listed in that book of gold. You have loved your fellow men, Sonali, and God, as well…

  27. Munira says:

    Such a sweet, funny, poignant post. It made me think about all the girls who I called my friends through those scary school years. Having sisters stopped me from really developing very close kinships with any of them. I think i grew up only being completely comfortable at home, with my family, my books, my tree, and my cats. Friends were kind of secondary…I didn’t count on them for confidence. But I valued their companionship and their individuality, though there was just one person I considered my ‘best’ friend for many years. We vowed never to drift apart, but we did, and it was sad, and I did feel ‘betrayed’ by her, for the simple fact that she branched out and made new friends and I got ‘left behind’. In the end, being free-spirited helped. (We ARE kind of in touch on Facebook, but she lives in San Diego now so we only meet every couple of years when she comes to Karachi to visit her parents)
    I find it so amazing when childhood friends reconnect without awkwardness. I always feel awkward.

    • Kathy says:

      Munira, you are making me think. I have had some friends who have had sisters–but not many. It seems that having lots of sisters perhaps means you already have your close friends–and do not need to seek outside your house. I am actually feeling tears about your “betrayal” by your friend. And you DO know I am going to San Diego soon, don’t you? Love & hugs, Kathy

  28. Lori DiNardi says:

    Lovely memories, although I understand about the adolescent part. My best girlfriend lived right next door. I could see in her bedroom window from mine. We grew up like sisters and didn’t even ask if we could come over to each others houses. We just took a few steps over and banged on the door. She was the maid of honor at my wedding, and soon after we had a falling out. We didn’t speak for 20 years. Then, I heard her mom died, who was like a second mother to me as a child. I still wrote to her mom over the years, who was so upset that her daughter and I didn’t speak. So, I contacted her when her mom died, and it’s been about 8 years since then. Guess who I’m going to go see after I type this comment? Since I’m still home in Chicago, we’re going to go hangout. So glad to hear you and your childhood friend can reminisce in fond memories. I enjoyed reading them too.

    • Kathy says:

      Adolescence can be so hard, can’t it, Lori? I am so glad you are going to see your old-time best friend, Lori. The Universe can be good, offering us these opportunities. In fact, I am kinda getting tears in my eyes thinking about it. And thinking about your friend with the bedroom window oh-so-near.

  29. Sara says:

    I love the free spirit and innocense of childhood. There’s no baggage or hormonal upheaval when we’re little. We played with abandon. I miss that. Great post, Kathy.

    • Kathy says:

      Dearest Sara, there are those days of free spirit and abandon…and then we grow up. And then we can, perhaps, if grace allows, re-kindle what was lost in a deeper and more meaningful way.

      • Lori DiNardi says:

        Thank you for sharing in the joy of my friendship with me, Kathy. I did see my friend again eight years ago after her mom died. We’ve been in touch ever since and have seen each other several times. It’s been a year since I last came home to see her. The universe surely is blessing me these past couple weeks. Going to see a friend tonight whom I’ve known since the age of 20 (just a few short years ago, heh). Thanks again, Kathy. So glad for you, that your friend found your blog.

  30. What a wonderful thing to happen! I am surprised sometimes when someone I know mentions a post! Very very nice!

  31. Joanne says:

    I remembering when I read about Carol, I wondered where she was now. She never really left completely, did she, and how amazing that her first child was born within hours of yours! I moved schools a few times and had a few best friends, none of whom are still in my life. Carol is a friend to treasure. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      She lives in the same hometown where we grew up, Joanne. I wouldn’t be surprised if perhaps, one of these days, maybe, you may meet up with one of those best friends from the past, Joanne. You never know!

  32. That must have been wonderful reconnecting with your childhood friend! And the synchronicity of having your firstborns born within hours of each other!!! I loved reading about how friendships change over the years.

    When my daughter Larisa was born, her future best friend, Alyssa, was in the hospital’s nursery at the same time, born the day before. They didn’t meet until they were in college, though, because they grew up in different towns. And as it turns out, Alyssa’s mother is named Barbara, too.

    • Kathy says:

      Barbara, I thought the synchronicity of our son’s births within hours was amazing. It felt like the Universe gave us that gift. The story about Larisa and Alyssa in the nursery at the same time is so sweet. And very interesting that there were two Barbara’s giving birth to future best friends at the same time.

  33. Christie Eagan says:

    Wow this one brought back a lot of memories, those were the days. Walking through the streets of Yale and telling stories now that sounds like a wonderful time. We must do that sometime…

    • Kathy says:

      Christie, I wonder if we can EVER get to Yale at the same time? I would LOVE it! Just think of the memories we could revive. I have such strong memories of walking uptown with you in, maybe, junior high. Those long ago days… So glad you appreciated this blog!

  34. Such a sweet post.

    I’m still in touch with my childhood friend “Little Matthew” (who now stands about 1/2 a foot taller than me). He was in the 2nd grade. I was in the 4th. We flew kites and rode bikes and spent many afternoons swimming and playing video games. He saved my life one day. 🙂

    Thank you for reminding me about those sweet moments of childhood.

  35. Marianne says:

    Beautiful story, Kathy! Love the poem as well. Thanks for sharing!

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