Friday, December 6, 2013

We Danced

We met at the YMCA.  We were three, maybe four.  Little girls take dance classes at that age because they are adorable in little pink leotards and ballet slippers and shiny patent tap shoes and then, like now, moms will do just about anything to get out of the house with their children.

Our class was small and we spent one hour a week every school year in that second floor room together with Miss Rita and her cropped hair and stern instructions to point, stretch, turn those knees out.

My knees didn’t turn out.  But Erin’s did.  She was a natural athlete and always a better dancer than me.  I had knobby knees and turned-in toes and never really knew how to move my body gracefully.

Our moms became friends as we danced.  I don’t remember when they were asked to stop watching our lessons.  They still maintain that it was because they giggled too much, but the important thing was that they spent that hour each week getting to know each other.

We didn’t live in the same town, so we didn’t go to the same school, but as Erin and I grew up we had sleepovers at each other’s houses.  Spending so much time in each other’s homes – sleeping in the same bed and giggling into the night, eating dinner with each other’s families, meeting extended family members, wearing each other’s clothes – gave our friendship an intimacy that just doesn’t happen with school chums.  I shaved my legs for the first time sitting on the edge of Erin’s bathtub.  I watched my first horror movie in her living room.  I made salad for the first time in her mother’s kitchen.  I wrote most of my diary entries behind the closed door of her bedroom, listening to Wham! and making prank phone calls and swooning over the poster of Rob Lowe that she had hanging on her wall.  We shared books, crushes, fears, and secrets.  We were building a history.

As the years advanced so did our friendship, and so did our dance lessons.  I struggled to keep up.  Miss Rita was always frustrated with my inability to properly turn out my knees.  I had adequate flexibility but none of the agility of movement ballet required.  Erin excelled.  She was into sports as well, tennis and basketball and softball.  One year she was moved up a level in dance, and we were no longer in the same class.  I switched dance schools.

Our friendship was firmly rooted by then, and we danced when we saw each other, sometimes sharing what we learned in our classes, most of the time remembering the moves to Michael Jackson’s Thriller dance we learned as kids, or making up our own.

We’d spend summers either swimming at my house in the country or walking the neighborhoods around her house in town.  Once we met by surprise on vacation and spent the week together.  We each had other groups of friends, and we were accepted into each others’ circles and got to know them as tweens, then teens.  Dance lessons were long behind us – I don’t remember exactly when we both stopped taking them.  In high school we had our last sleepover.

We grew up and away as people do, going to college and finding careers and making new friends.   Erin and I see each other sporadically now, living away from each other but keeping up through our moms who built their friendship alongside ours.  When we see each other, bringing our own families with us, we laugh and talk and hug and it feels like no time has passed since we were girls.

When we danced.


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This post inspired by:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt #2: A childhood friend.

20 comments:

  1. I love stories about childhood friends. I have one whom I've known since we were 4 (that's 33 years). We're still friends though we don't see each other as much. But it's lovely that we can talk and laugh like no time has passed too. Childhood friends rock.

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    1. They do rock! Those friends are my most cherished. Even though we don't see each other often, and might not know all the present details, they are forever a part of my life. The familiarity of them - this is woven into who I am today. I'm so glad you can relate!!

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  2. Don't take this the wrong way, but I'm so glad that didn't end with, "And then she was killed in a tragic car accident." I was seriously holding my breath. I'm just so happy to read a nice story about a lovely childhood memory. Thanks Andrea!

    BTW, all of those details made me wonder how many memories I'm making for my kids' friends. You do things and never think it'll make a dent. But then...

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    1. You know, I thought that it kind of read that way when I was writing - that I was prepping for a tragic ending. But no, just a love story about my dearest friend. This is my mood in the early morning writing hours - melancholy with a twinge of nostalgia. I'm one big bowl of happy.

      We never know how the decisions we make for our kids will shape their lives. I'm sure my mother never thought "I'll sign Andrea up for ballet so she can make lifelong friends." It probably went more like this: OMG this kid is hopelessly clumsy. I'm gonna get her some dance lessons so she doesn't break her neck trying to walk across the living room." Something you're doing right now will lead to them having a great memory. Just wait.

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    2. I was thinking the same thing, please do not let this end tragically.

      I'm so glad it didn't.

      I've been friends with my dearest friend since we were 4. And even though we don't see each other anywhere near as much as I'd like, I'm so glad that we are still friends.

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    3. Dang. Maybe I should write cliffhangers. :)

      It really makes me smile that so many of my readers have so many wonderful, long-term friendships. xo

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  3. Like the other Tammy, I was holding my breath hoping it wasn't a eulogy. I'm so glad you were able to build such a friendship, especially with someone that didn't go to the same school. It's wonderful that your moms also keep their ties tight.

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    1. Thanks, Tammy! It is rare for kids to be as close as we were considering the different schools. The fact that our parents grew close was definitely a key. Our moms are still good friends.

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  4. What a sweet story. I think often of my childhood friends as I watch my girls make good friends at school. It's such an endearing and genuine relationship at this age.

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    1. It sure is! I encourage my kids in their friendships. Sometimes I think that the art of building relationships with others is overlooked in parenting. I try to teach my kids how to be a good friend. I hope they learn how to.

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  5. This is really so poetic. I love it. It takes me there!

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    1. Thanks, Jennie! I teared up a million times remembering those years. I'm glad you had some similar memories!

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  6. Oh, such sweet memories about a sweet friendship. Childhood friendships always have a special place in our hearts, don't they?

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    1. They sure do! I remember every one of them. This particular one is a huge part of who I am.

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  7. This post made me smile the whole way through! You perfectly captured what it's like to be best friends growing up. That slow drift apart as you each make your way in the world, but the old familiarity that never changes despite everything else. LOVE!

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    1. Thanks, Kat! It amazes me how time falls away when getting together with old friends. They really do mold us when we are young. Their stories become a part of us.

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  8. Such a cool and sweet story. I too was holding my breath, I wanted a happy ending and I'm so happy you gave it to me. Friendship is so precious.

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    1. Thanks so much for the nice compliment! I'm also glad this story has a happy ending. :)

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  9. This post makes me miss one of my grade school friends. Grew up, grew apart, moved on, and wouldn't you know she is one of those people that are NOT on Facebook. I wish everyone could be just so I could know what they are all up to now.

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    1. Yeah, my friend isn't on FB either. It's okay, though. When we get together all those years between don't matter at all.

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