Snapshots of a Friendship

One time we made a cake just like Laura Ingalls’s wedding cake. We beat the eggs against a wooden cutting board with forks, “to be authentic.” It wasn’t very good.

We used to have pinecone fights in the neighborhood, run around gathering the wet, sharp cones and then hurl them mercilessly at the other team. We loved it, but the neighbor kids told their parents and we were outcast. We thought at least we were better than our dad and his friends, who used to throw hard little acorns at each other.

Once, in the woods, we all crawled through frozen underbrush to the little stream that had frozen over. It was the coldest it had ever been. We slid on our bellies along the ice, the tall snow-bent weeds hanging over us to make a canopy. We’re like seals, I said.

Man-hunt. The game of summer nights and over-excited pre-teens. We raced around town with flashlights, screaming, scared and exhilarated. She had a crush on the neighbor boy, so that made night-time chasing even more fun.

We used to talk about when we grew up, getting married. She said I’d definitely be in her wedding. I said she’d definitely be in mine. She said she wanted to be seventeen. I said, Oh my gosh, no.

She invited me to Starbucks in September, offered to pay. I should’ve known.

Will you be my Maid of Honor?

I sipped my caramel macchiato.

Yes, I will be your Maid of Honor.

Every December, we had a Christmas Feast. We filled stockings for each other, wrapped up inexpensive gifts, baked a little chicken (with Mom’s patient help). Every year we would string popcorn and cranberries, watch “White Christmas,” and drink hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream.

This December, we will go dress shopping. I will sit quietly as she tries on dress after dress. I will watch her and think about throwing pinecones at each other, concocting terrible plays about wilderness adventures, walking to get ice cream on summer afternoons.

Her mother and sisters and I will laugh and chat while she’s in the dressing room. We will marvel at the passing of time, the beauty of her smile, her excitement.

It feels like the blink of an eye since we were little girls. Thank goodness she waited til twenty-three.