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?