Friends are such important people in your lives. They come and they go – sometimes – but they all have a purpose in our lives and teach us various things about ourselves or others.
When I moved to Minnesota before fourth grade began, my family didn’t have a house, so we stayed in a hotel until we found one (ha – good luck finding that relo package now). Being that Minnesota isn’t exactly a tourist destination, living in a hotel after awhile becomes … boring.
Finally a girl arrived at the hotel pool one day who appeared to be around my age – a first, I believe. We stayed and played together for a few days and became fast friends. She had also just moved to Minnesota, and her parents were just waiting for their house to be ready to move in. She was only there a week or so, but I really missed her when she left.
Fast forward to me moving into a house – a week before school – and getting signed up for that new school. It was a small Catholic school, and I knew no one. The first day of school was tough, as the cliques had already formed by fourth grade, and it was not easy to break in.
On the fifth day of school, I rounded the corner after getting a drink of water and spotted Leslie (my friend from the pool) coming around the corner the other direction. Imagine my shock – and joy – at seeing her again. Apparently she had been on the wait list for my fourth grade classroom (speculation is that my second grade sister got me in ahead of her) but had finally made it, so she’d just registered that morning.
You have no idea how wonderful it felt to have a rock like that. My life in school was instantly so much easier. We were best friends, and we spent so much time at each others’ houses. She was an only child, so she had her own bedroom plus a playroom for her cool things like her dollhouse and unfolding chair into a bed. She had a Scottie, which I thought was the coolest thing ever. Plus, she had a really great singing voice, and her parents talked my parents into letting me join the children’s choir. While I was never a soloist – she sang the Tin Man verse of “If I Only Had A Heart” – I enjoyed my experience, and it’s probably a big reason why I enjoy singing today.
We were pretty much inseparable through fourth, fifth and sixth grades. In the seventh grade, there were finally two sections of classes, so I didn’t see her as much, although we rehearsed The Sound of Music together frequently – she was Maria, of course, but I was Liesl (hey, it’s a small school, apparently you didn’t need that much talent).
But come the summer after seventh grade, I decided that I wanted to go to a public school for the increased opportunities – from larger classes to more electives. It was decided just before the start of school, and with my typical preteen selfishness, I threw myself into my new world. Finally, I was in a school with the other kids from my neighborhood. I wasn’t the odd kid out, and I loved it.
I never saw Leslie after that. By the time I was a little older and realized how much I missed her friendship, I found out that her family had moved back to Washington state (she had come from Spokane). I did find out that she went to St. Mary’s College by Notre Dame for college somehow, but I’ve never been able to track her down to apologize for disappearing and to try to renew our friendship.
I have no idea where she is today, but I wish I did. She made my fourth school in five years (due to moving) a pleasant experience for me, and I would have been lost without her. Although I made other friends at that school – including many I now keep in touch with via Facebook – hers is one of the two friendships from that period in my life that I most regret letting slip away.
So hey – if anyone knows where I can find Leslie Smith Field, have her shoot me an email, would ya? Ditto with Katie McCall while you’re at it.
What friends do you most regret losing touch with?