July 30, Saturday
We went to the lake with my friend Kim and her family. I grew up across the street from Kim and her three brothers and two sisters, and our ages were pretty much staggered a year apart, all down the line.
We would play euchre by the hours at her kitchen table every day in the summer. If we had a partner and wanted trump to be diamonds, we would rub our ring finger. We drank cherry Kool-Aid made with big scoops of pure white cane sugar and swiped fat fingerfuls of Pillsbury chocolate frosting out of the can and rubbed it against our teeth until it dissolved.
We played spoons until we would fall out of our chairs laughing, banging our hands down on the table and sending the spoons scattering in all directions. We ate kettle-cooked potato chips and drank pop.
Kim and I used to cut through backyards and the woods by the reservoir to go to the convenience store and buy bags of candy. We would walk home clutching our paper bags filled with Marathon bars and Milky Ways and Zots and Sprees and packs of Rain-Blo bubblegum, then sit on my bed and read books while eating our candy. We used to lie in bed in the dark when we had sleepovers and, without our glasses, look at each others’ faces until we looked as misshapen and unrecognizable as monsters.
We played spin the bottle in her basement and watched General Hospital. Because there were so many of us and also more kids down the street, we could play kickball and baseball in her side yard with enough kids to cover every base and the outfield.
We walked to the general store, before it was Target or Gold Circle, and shared a plate of french fries at the coffee shop. Once our waitress was an older woman with white hair and a polyester uniform with white socks rolled down to her ankles and shabby shoes. The sight of those white socks and shoes was so heartbreaking, even to us at 9 and 12 years old, that we left her a pile of coins as her tip, all that remained of the change that we had shaken out of her mom’s big green jug that used to hold wine.
When I go back home, it’s like no time has passed between us. We catch up on family and gossip and talk about who’s no longer living. We still sit around the kitchen table, but now we drink sweet tea.
I think about what makes a best friend. She and I have gone years without talking and we don’t know the day-to-day details of each others’ lives like my friends and her friends do. But something about growing up on the same street in a small town has bonded us in ways big and small.