Today the friend I’ve called “best” since middle school turns 29. Again. For the 16th time. And, no, our hair isn’t quite so big now-a-days as it was in the nineties…
In high school, she drove a used, red Pulsar that smelled of cigars and cherry car freshener. But I didn’t mind the smell, because the seats reclined flat, so we could (literally) hide in the school parking lot.
She had sauntered into my 7th grade classroom late in the morning one October day. I was a native Delawarean who thought lower Delaware (we called it “slower Delaware”) was a long drive. Her being from Baltimore meant she was from the other side of a wide chasm. Never mind it was only the Fort McHenry Tunnel. She was foreign. (And I didn’t even know then that she had been, literally, “made in China,” where her parents where missionaries.) But she quickly taught me that being a friend doesn’t mean being like each other, but liking each other for who you are, even in the awkward years of big hair, braces, and pimples.
… A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17
I don’t always recognize those 17-year-old giddy girls trapped behind our wrinkles and gray hairs today.
But what I do recognize in her, always, are the traits for the bestest friend a woman could have.
Sure we passed notes in class and, well, hid in her Pulsar, but when a little nudge to do the right thing wasn’t enough, we would each make sure to shove the other in the right direction.
… One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor. But the way of the wicked leads them astray. Proverbs 12:26
As good as we were for each other, we almost parted ways over America’s Favorite pastime. You see, in my house, in 1983, there was no team superior to the Phillies. But she blatantly routed for the Orioles that World Series. The team that swept my beloved Rose. Schmidt. And McGraw. I didn’t like it one bit, but decided to just not talk baseball, so we could remain friends.
… Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared. Proverbs 22:24-25
Years later her dad took us to a game at the old Oriole park. It was free umbrella day, and I actually decided to keep the umbrella. In ’92 we finally put all baseball disagreements aside and traversed side-by-side in the Opening Day Parade for the Yard. We even met a few familiar faces.
Not only did she introduce me to Ripken, over the years she has taught me that lobster claws make fine earrings, there is truly no better chocolate in the world than Toblerone, sometimes the best things ARE made in China, and friendship should always improve who you are. If it doesn’t, you’re not doing it right.
… Iron sharpens iron, and one [friend] sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17