I am a big fan of serial fantasy novels. Lord of the Rings, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms. The notion that a group of strangers can come together and save the world is wildly appealing to me. Perhaps it is the group dynamic that plays out or the blending of talents that appeal to me. But in all honesty, I think that the unusual circumstance that introduces and brings the characters together is what I love the most about these novels.
We had just moved to New York and the school year was barely started. At five, I had missed the cut off for school and I wouldn’t be starting kindergarten until the following year. This was before pre-school was the “in” thing so I had yet to meet any one except my next door neighbor. My oldest brother just starting high school, however, had made a bunch of new friends, which turned out exceedingly lucky for me.
My mom kept an open door policy at our house when I was growing up: all of our friends were welcome. The day I met Ericka, she had come with her mom to drop off Chip, Ericka’s older brother. My mom walked out to chat with Ericka’s mom. After a few minutes, my mom casually looked at Ericka.
“You know, I have a daughter about your age. Would you like to meet her?”
Ericka, startled, gave a hesitant nod, and was nudged out of the car.
“Go through the kitchen, down the hall and up the stairs. Heather’s room is the first door at the top.”
Ericka’s mom and mine continued chatting while Ericka made her way inside a strange house. I can only image what Ericka must have been thinking at that point. We both had such active imaginations, perhaps she thought she was walking into a trap or a house full of carnies!
Up in my room, I had no idea what was happening. I was supposed to be getting dressed. But I was too busy DANCING to worry about clothes! I danced about my room in my underwear a la Tom Cruise (in 1980 I was way ahead of the times). In my passionate dance frenzy, I got thirsty and was just starting out of my room to get a drink when I saw Ericka came slowly up the stairs.
I stopped, “Hi!” The music blared from my room as I watched the tall blonde girl climb the stairs.
“Um, hi.” Ericka said. “Your mom sent me in,” she glanced behind her, perhaps hoping for a quick rescue.
“Are you allowed to play in your underwear?” she blurted out coming to a stop at the top step.
“Oh!” I said with a big smile and knowing of course I wasn’t allowed to run around the house in my underwear. “Sure. I do this all the time!” I casually glanced around to make sure my mom wasn’t about to materialize. “Wanna play?”
“…Sure…” Ericka said.
The rest of the day is a bit fuzzy. Did I get dressed? What did we play or talk about? But from that day, from that auspicious meeting, a great friendship was born. Thirty years later, Ericka is still an amazing friend and I am forever grateful to have shared so many adventures with her.
This is written in response to a prompt from Write on Edge exploring friendships.