qotd: my first friend

Who is the very first friend you ever had?  Are you still in touch?

When I was about four, my family moved into the first floor flat in my paternal grandparent's two-story home. All of the homes on the block were like this, as well most in the neighborhood (my mother's oldest brother lived so that our yards were diagonal to each other and their oldest sister lived upstairs). There was also an attic apartment where my great-grandmother lived.

The Freeman family lived next door to us in a similar home with a similar arrangement. In this case though the younger generation lived above the maternal grandparents. They had two girls and a boy, we had two girls and an Old English sheepdog.

I became friends with the oldest girl. We were exactly sixteen days apart. Tana was born on Leap Day and so there were many great philosophical arguments over who truly was older. Tana had only had her first birthday, if you looked at things my way.

Tana's sister, Heather, was only a few months younger than my sister. And they too became friends. There is a really funny story about how Heather and my sister, Alice, were once watching the dads work on a car. Each of the fathers had a can of beer sitting on the sidewalk while they worked under the hood. Apparently while the men were busy the two little girls (probably both around four at this point) took turns drinking the beers. The dads realized this when they came over to have some beer and found the cans empty next to two giggly girls. I don't think either of them was punished.

In the summers us four girls could usually be found in our back yard. My grandmother  first put in a sandbox and then a swing set and then an above ground pool. In the winter, we were usually next door in the basement. Tana and Heather's grandparents had redone the basement and turned it into every little girl's dream house. There was a toy fridge, stove, and sink.

The four of us attended preschool together and then went to the public school which was just across the street. Tana and I were in the same class for both kindergarten and first grade. We moved across town at the end of that year. And Tana's family moved to the suburbs not too much after that. Since we still had grandparents to visit, we would see each other from time to time, even after we moved across the country to California. We would write, but not nearly as much as we had promised.

I remember the last time we saw them we went out to their home. Their parents were putting in a real pool in the backyard. I think we went to a softball game that Heather was playing in.  It was really nice to see them again, but things were not the same.

When my sister attempted to contact me (pretending to be someone else) back in the late 90's, she mentioned that she had found Tana on AOL. I emailed her, but didn't hear back. I know that both Tana and her sister are nurses like their mother, and both are married with children. I thought about trying to contact her again when I learned that my sister had died, but didn't really know what purpose it would serve.

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