First Friend By Deb Anna

When I began thinking about this topic, I planned to write about Leah, my best friend from kindergarten through about third grade. Fourth? It can be difficult to determine when best friendships morph into regular old friendships, especially while looking back on those pre-pubescent years, but I’m fairly certain that by fifth grade — after Leah had transferred schools — we’d both moved on to other favorites.

Then I remembered that Leah wasn’t, in fact, my first.

There was Shana, at nursery school. I don’t remember much about nursery school — I was actually put in it when I was two, because my mom went back to school — besides the fact that my teacher was named Miss Yvonne (it was actually years later that I learned that this was her name — at the time, I thought she was Missy Vaughn). But back to Shana. Maybe it was Shanna? Or Shauna? Give me a break, people. I was two. Anyway, I recall very little about Shana/Shanna/Shauna, except for the fact that she came before Leah.

There was also Joey, my next-door neighbor, who I played with in the afternoons. I don’t think we ever actually played doctor — which I’ve since learned is what you’re supposed to be doing with the neighborhood boy — but I do recall us showing each other our pee in the toilet. This is obviously far more disturbing than doctor and has probably damaged me deeply in ways I have yet to discover.

Leah, I guess, was my first friend that I really liked. Joey was the neighborhood pal, Shana was probably the only other kid at nursery school who was a year or two younger than everyone else. But Leah was my choice. I remember that we first bonded over a bruise — I don’t remember if she had it or I did — that we were examining during story or nap time. The friendship graduated to the playground at recess, where we chased boys (literally) and then placed them in our “cootie kissing cabin” on the playground. And the adventures never stopped! We won goldfish at the Marin County Fair by tossing ping pong balls into fishbowls. We spent weekends at her family’s house in the country, where one time I got a tick in my belly button and her mom pulled it out with a tweezers. We went to camp together in Yosemite. We put on endless talent shows that we subjected our ever-tolerant parents and their friends to.

Jesus, could that sound any more idyllic? (Well, not the tick part — although I even remember that being fairly exciting. Hindsight tends to dull pain or panic.)

What do you remember about your childhood best friend?

6 Replies to “First Friend By Deb Anna”

  1. I remember that Lisa and I watched thunderstorms roll in while safely ensconced in her mother’s big, puffy sofa in their living room. We also watched a solar eclipse from there, peeking out from behind their heavy drapes. And her big brother, Andre, would fix us lunch? Dinner? Maybe both, and I thought that was very cool. And The Electric Company was a large part of our afternoon TV watching 🙂

  2. My best friend would listen and pretend to love the angst filled poetry I wrote. She found something to laugh about in even the saddest situation. We got our first job together as chamber maids, when we were fifteen. The fun we had naming our vacuum cleaners (Spike and Ratso, I think) and racing them down the halls and laughing so hard we had to keep a change of pants on hand. Thirty some years later, we still giggle over the antics of those silly teenage girls. Sani is still the same wonderful person she was then. Thanks, for being a kindred spirit and lifelong friend.

  3. Carleen and I were inseparable. We were both twins. I had a twin sister and she a twin brother. Firm friends from three years of age until she died twenty years ago of pancreatic cancer at the age of thirty-three.
    Unconditional positive regard. I could do not wrong. She would love the fact that I will be published author.
    Sometimes I think she has been working up there with my mom to make it happen…

  4. Kathie and I met at camp when we were seven, being inseparable until she married right out of college and started a family. But the fact that our lives went in different directions hasn’t mattered, we’re still friends… priceless!

  5. Cootie kissing cabin! I love it!

    My best friend Lynn and I were inseparable. Once, as punishment for something terribly cruel we did to her little brother, our parents forbid us from seeing each other. We snuck out and I swam across a freezing cold river to meet her.

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