About 50 years ago I made a friend in elementary school. (I can’t believe I’m actually old enough to say that.)
Anyway, she was one of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever seen — a California baby with golden hair that reflected the light and a baby face that made everyone’s heart skip a beat. Her name was Shelley, and she was my very best friend…the kind you only make when either very young or very old.
It felt as if our hearts beat together with the same rhythm. We played together endlessly, loved each other unconditionally, cheered each other’s happiness and cried at all the same things.
One of my favorite memories from childhood is when Shelley and I were about 7 or 8 years old. We decided to break into the Guinness Book of World Records. I had a Teeter Totter in my back garden, so she and I made six or seven of the worst ham sandwiches imaginable, stuck them in an enormous grocery sack and carried them out to the swing set.
We started swinging back and forth on that old Teeter Totter, wondering how many days we would be able to keep going with our sandwiches to carry us through. We even made up a theme song to the tune of The Carpenters “For All We Know,” “Teeter…look at the two of us. Totter…isn’t it fun?” I think we lasted all of 20 minutes. Then we went inside to watch television. Thinking back on that day still makes me a little weepy…remembering how innocent and funny we were. Feeling like the entire world was ours for the taking.
Of course, life moves along. How can it not? Tragedies happened in my family and in hers. She drifted her way and I drifted mine. We became interested in different things, and by high school we were living in different circles. Shelley was the cheerleader that all the boys wanted to date. I was a foot taller than every boy in high school so dating no one there, and as a result, completely focused on theater, dance and drill team.
About five years ago, we reconnected through Facebook. But, as I’ve been living in three other countries during that time, we’d only been able to get together for dinner with a small group of friends four or five times since we reconnected. Not much time to do anything but ask the basic “catch up” questions. “How are you?” “How are the kids?” “How is life these days?” “Where have you traveled lately?” Etc…
That is until about a month ago when Shelley messaged me and said, “I’m coming to visit you in London.” Of course I was thrilled, I’ve been asking her to come for years. But secretly I was a little worried. What if we didn’t have anything in common anymore? What if we had nothing to talk about? What if…What if…What if?
Well, as it turns out, there was absolutely NO need to worry.
From the moment she walked in the door of my flat, we were those same two giggly little girls again, with our own secret language, not needing to finish our sentences because we knew the other person had already finished them in her head. We talked at the same time, laughed like school girls and even cried at all the same things again. It felt like our hearts were beating with the same rhythm within an hour of our time together.
I’ve had more belly laughs in just this last week with her than I’ve had in the past 15 years. And since we both hate, hate, HATE saying goodbye, when she left we both just said “See ya.” And then the minute she got in the taxi and drove off, I burst into tears.
I feel like I not only rediscovered an old friend, but a part of myself as well. I found that goofy, funny little girl who was all heart, all love and all innocence. I rediscovered that little girl is powerful and confident and incredibly fun. I rediscovered that the world is full of possibilities.
Best of all, I rediscovered that sometimes the best friends of your life are the ones whose hearts beat with the same rhythm as yours. Shelley and I are like twins separated at birth. She’s a part of me and I’m a part of her. Before she left, we made plans for her to come back for another visit in December — maybe. I’m praying she does…I miss her already.
I’ve been so blessed to have incredible women friends throughout my life. Leesy, Diane and Joy (and a few others) are like sisters to me, woven together into the fabric of my life. They know how much they are loved — how much they mean to me. I’m writing this, though, because I’m just so grateful to have rediscovered my beautiful Shelley.
I love you, Teeter. Come back soon.