It was the first day of kindergarten. I was scared to death because I had never really spent much time away from my mother. I remember seeing this little girl across the room. She was so pretty.
She had on a dress and Mary Jane shoes, but what intrigued me were her dark brown, impeccably curled ringlets, just like Nellie Olson’s from “Little House on the Prairie.” This girl didn’t cry on her first day of kindergarten, but she was really shy. I don’t remember saying anything to her before I approached her.
I do remember walking up behind her and not being able to control the urge to pull on one ringlet to see if it would bounce back into that perfect shape.
OK, now that I’m an adult, I understand that’s not the way to meet a person, let alone make a best friend. Luckily, that day at least, it worked for me. AnnaMarie didn’t hold that I pulled her hair against me, thank goodness.
The next year, AnnaMarie moved to another elementary school in town. We never really talked for four years. Yes, there were the few awkward moments at the store when our mothers would stop to talk to one another while we tried to hide behind them. We never really made eye contact, but our mothers forced us to say hello to one another.
By middle school, we picked our friendship back up. We were in choir and band together and after-school groups making some new memories. In seventh or eighth grade, I remember we had to learn to dance in gym. So, after school, we would be in my driveway with the radio on in the car and the windows down while we practiced swing dancing. We also would spend several afternoons at her house making up dance routines to Whitney Houston’s “I Want to Dance With Somebody.”
I laugh out loud just thinking about it.
In high school, we talked too much. I remember spending more time in the hallway my freshman year in Mr. Cooper’s science class than in class. At least out there, our conversations went uninterrupted. I was homeschooled the last two years of school, so we weren’t as close those years.
We had two years of college here at Colorado Northwestern Community College together before she went away to finish her bachelor’s degree. We talked too much in college, too, but we didn’t get sent to the hall. I have to admit, we made some really great memories those two years, but they weren’t really column-worthy.
I was heartbroken when she left. My son was, too. He loved his AnnaMarie. We spoke on the phone, wrote letters and once in a while we would visit each other. Now we have email, Facebook and texting. We’ve been in each other’s weddings, watched our families grow and held each other in our lowest moments. We seem to have the knack for knowing when the other needs a call or a message. She’s the friend whom I don’t see for months, or sometimes years, but the moment we’re together, it’s like we’ve never been apart. I’m so blessed to have had her in my life all these years.
My hope is that everyone finds or has a friend like her. Although, I don’t recommend going around pulling ringlets until you find one.