The other’s gold…

We played together as babies.  We must have, because i simply don’t remember meeting them.  TAB and JLB were the two girls across the street.  Age-wise, they were snuggled neatly between me and my sister, T, making for perfect playmates.  TAB and i were in the same grade at school, with my sister, T, two years ahead, and JLB a year behind.
We became ‘blood sisters’ somewhere about eight years old, using a Boy Scout knife we hijacked from an older brother.
It was the era of “Lord of the Flies” parenting.  Once we reached school-age, we ran wild.  Dads went to work in the morning, and Moms booted us outside in the summer, expecting us to stay gone until lunch time or injury, whichever came first. 
In addition to the four of us, there were five other girls of similar age in our pack.  There were also several boys in the neighborhood, but they were clustered at the end of the street, and we only connected with them for “Girls vs. Boys” games of Capture the Flag, or the big neighborhood wiffleball and football games*. 
Adventures?  All the damn time!  Tree forts were made with construction lumber and supplies swiped** from construction sites.  We’d camp out in sleeping bags at least once a week during summer – often doing a bit of backyard pool hopping on the hottest nights. 
Winter months forced the adventures indoors.  The younger years involved hours of “playing Barbie”, where we’d transport suitcases full of Barbie gear to an empty garage or basement.  We’d set up complex scenarios, our Barbie dolls living out our projected lives as adults.  Oh, there were Ken dolls, too, but they were mostly used as props, or torture victims.
Rather than the four of us descending upon one household for sleepovers, we did something called “trading sisters” – asking parents if we could swap out a sister for the night.  This way, no parent had to deal with more than two squealing girls at a time.  The logistics were nearly perfect.
The four of us stayed pretty close until my sister hit high school and some of her friends had cars.  By the end of her freshman year in high school she’d moved on.  The remaining trio remained close for a couple more years, but over time, we found other friends, got our own cars, and our connectivity naturally declined. 
TAB got married right out of high school.  i remember going to her wedding – to a guy she’d been dating for over a year, but i’d never met.  Having left town for school, i felt a little out of place.  JLB went to nursing school in town.  The next time i saw either of them was six years later, at their mother’s funeral.  After that? Three years later when one of their brothers died. 
We vowed to stop meeting up only at funerals – and did manage a few fun gatherings of the old neighborhood gang.  But life, babies, jobs and the universe colluded to make such events rare.  TAB and JLB were both at Dad’s funeral.  When JLB, who remained single, adopted a son four years ago, i brought Mom with me to the baby shower. 
Last weekend, i was a little surprised to find TAB at the high school reunion – she was always shy in crowds.  As i fluttered around the room – mixing up visits with pleasant people and dodging a few whack jobs – i’d find myself seeking refuge in the corner, where TAB and another shy friend were hiding.  Snippets of conversation, family updates, pictures of kids…. But not much time to really talk.
Yesterday, i got an e-mail from TAB:  “It was so nice to see you at the reunion. I’m a fish out of water at those kind of things but you made me feel more at ease. Wish we could have chatted a little more… maybe next time we see each other.”
The memories i acquired with TAB and JLB are the ones that made my childhood idyllic.  In fact, it’s that idyllic part of my childhood that probably kept me from noticing that i lived in a trailer park.  The more i think about it, TAB and JLB may have provided the foundation that got me out of there, reasonably intact. 
It is my hope that my final words can echo those of my father – “I have no regrets. No unfinished business.  I can go now.”  If there was someone you grew up with that got away from you?  That’s the stuff regrets are made of… 
We’re looking for a free weekend in October…


* Tackle.  Flag football was for girls…
** The ONLY word for this is “swiped”.  Not “stolen”, “misappropriated” or “purloined”.  There are a few other words that come close, such as “pinched”, “filched” or “ripped off”, but in the world of my childhood, the word was “swiped”.

34 thoughts on “The other’s gold…

  1. I read the words “… next time we see each other” and I thought: Daisyfae someone should give you a good swift kick in the backside if you don’t make a way to get together soon. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to any of us.

    Should have known you were already several steps ahead of me. Nothing new there.

    Good for you.


  2. It is great to hear about it and it sounds idyllic, but maybe it was because you lived in a trailer park that it was so free range, idyllic and fun…?!

    (It reminds me of my own childhood, being a “westie”, which is kinda our version of trailer park)

    • good question, but i really think it was just how people raised kids in the 60’s… if we had a friend who wasn’t allowed to go to the pond? that kid was ‘over-protected’, and we thought the parents were evil…

  3. That’s a great reminiscence. At times I wonder how I would have turned out had I had a childhood like that. We moved too many times at the “right” juncture which successfully terminated any chances I would have had to establish those early bonds with other non-family members.

    Sometimes I wonder about the people I grew up with during those short periods of time we were in one place or another and then I wonder if they ever wonder about me.

    • the stability of that neighborhood for over 20 years was pretty amazing – mom still has that house, and the B family still has the one across the street. the friendships of my childhood may have given me more than i ever realized – certainly fun, a sense of adventure, and a degree of fearlessness that i’ve dusted off in my middle age…

  4. “Swiped” is a good word. When I was younger the word we used was “twoced” from the acronym for “taken without owner’s consent.”

    I’ve been putting off returning to the spawning ground for a while now, not least because there is no-one alive there to meet me anymore. But you’ve just inspired me. Perhaps I’ll pay one final visit before Christmas just to say adieu.

  5. What a great post, thoughtful as well as fun to read. Made me wish I hadn’t grown up in the middle of the howling wilderness with no neighbors. It would have been fun to have a pack to run with instead of being a solo act.

    • One of the things i think i got from this part of my childhood? i genuinely like people. well, at least until they are dipshits, or mean. some of my ability to deploy ‘situational leadership’ skills can be DEFINITELY traced to my youth…

  6. I wish I had childhood friends that I’d stayed in touch with. I only correspond with two people from middle school, one of whom lives in Germany now. We’ve tried on numerous occasions to schedule a trip to see each other, and it always seems to fall through. One of these days, “next year” won’t be an option. Hopefully not because we’re dead. More along the lines of her moving back to the states. Although if one of us dies, that would suck, too.

    • i didn’t realize how unusual my childhood was… perhaps we had the last remnants of that 1950’s ‘leave it to beaver’ thing? i was lucky. the fact that we can still meet up and yak? very amazing…

    • there was a subset – a few hard core bible-thumping right wingnuts – that didn’t get a whole lot of my time. there are also a few who haven’t changed – at all. same musical tastes, same hair, same clothes… that’s frustrating. when folks asked me what sort of music i listen to? some of the bands they’d never heard of…

  7. What a lovely post! It sure brings up memories! I loved my “kick ’em out of the house and see if they survive” summers. When I think how goofy I was in scheduling my own kids during their summers, I cringe a bit. Maybe more than a bit.

    • i had to retstrain myself from over-scheduling my spawn when they were young. because we both worked, we only allowed them to choose one extra-curricular activity at a time… gave them some downtime. when i coached soccer, i was blown away by how many of the kids were just exhausted from too many structured activities outside of school…

  8. i lived in the same house from age 4 until i moved out at 19. i remember my friends from that street, but i have no idea what’s become of them. you’re a lucky gal to still know. xoxoxoxo

  9. I loved being able to go outside barefoot, have a jam sandwich for lunch, play outside until dark and then come home exhausted falling into bed only after washing dirty feet in the tub. Summers were grand as a child, and the friends we had were awesome.

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