I remember the day we first met. I was six years old and nearing the end of my kindergarten year. I only went to school in the mornings then, and when my mom picked me up she told me about a new family that had moved to the neighborhood.
"They have a daughter your age. You should go over and see if she would like to play"
When you're in kindergarten, that means, "After lunch, you're going to that new girl's house and asking her to play".
So that's exactly what I did. I still remember what I was wearing - my favorite knit dress (red, and not froo froo), knee socks, and white sneakers.
I remember climbing the tall stairs to her porch and feeling a little self-conscious because I was showing up solo. I also remember being curious as to what she was like, so after a moment's pause, I pushed the doorbell button.
Denise and I became best friends from that day forward. We played at each others' houses, we walked to and from school together. We traded Barbie clothes. We got go-go boots together. She was the oldest of four. Sometimes her younger sister would play with us too, but Denise and I were inseparable,
Until second grade.
We were walking to school one day, and Denise was uncharacteristically quiet. Then she told me that her dad got a new job in another state. They were moving.
I didn't know what to say. Denise began to tear up. I tried to act like I was okay with it, but I wasn't. When we got to school, we hung up our coats in silence. I walked into the classroom to find Denise sobbing in the arms of our teacher.
The day they left, the family stopped by our house to say last good-byes. I stood out in my front yard with my parents and brother, a bit stoic and not saying much. Then they drove off in their stuffed tank of a 70's American car.
There were a few letters in the years that followed, with enclosed school photos and such, but that really didn't last long. Despite our sadness at first, we were able to move on. After she left, I was the sole girl in the neighborhood and became the resident tomboy. I would still think of her often though, and remember those good times. Luckily, around 6th grade, my boundaries had grown and there were other girls to hang out with when I wasn't at school. This came just in time for puberty, which was a good thing because it was starting to feel weird playing with the neighbor boys all the time.
Earlier today, I read a blog post about a woman who went looking for a long lost friend by simply googling her, and I got to thinking about Denise. I googled and found her on Linkedin.
I saw her face after all of these years and knew instantly that it was her. Those same smiling eyes. I thought, "Should I contact her?". I know nothing about her anymore, other than the professional stuff on her Linkedin profile.
Then I thought, "What the h", and hit the "connect" button.
I feel like that girl in the red dress, ringing that doorbell.