Occasionally we meet people who can give their friendship without some kind of price tag attached. I was fortunate to have found several friends at an early age who not only loved unconditionally, but also withheld making judgment calls as well. My first memories of having friends date back before I went to school. My neighborhood was filled with families who had children of all ages. In my minuscule world that encompassed 4 or 5 houses, Linda was among my first friends. She was a soft-spoken, friendly child who later became the hot vixen all redheads seem to become. Our time together was always an adventure as we went from playing with dolls and hopscotch to skipping school and lusting after boys to becoming reunited after missing all those years in the middle where people become adults and have families.
I’ve always tended to gravitate towards the edge and tested any boundaries that stood in my way. It’s where I felt most comfortable. Maybe it was the suspense, the thrill, the uncertainty of the outcome that made teetering on the edge so appealing to me. Whatever it was, that certain something was a definite factor in what kept a smile on our faces in those days of our adolescent angst. When I think of what a bad influence I was on so many of my friends, I now feel a little regret, but I won't lie...I also smile as I remember the progression of things and the fun involved. Back in those days among many other things, we became quite familiar with 5 finger discounts. As we built our collection of free make-up, jewelry, records, clothes and whatever else struck our fancy at the time (all things we really didn't "need"), it was the thrill of seeing how outrageous we could be that kept us going back for more. Why we were never caught is beyond me, but I suppose it was more dumb luck than skill that keep us on the right side of the law.
By the time we were teenagers, my attic was transformed into a place to wile away the hours skipping school, while we waited for my mother to go to work at 2:30 each afternoon. Anything in my house that wasn't being used seemed to always found its way to the top floor making the attic a true cornucopia of treasures. As our collection of discarded paint cans grew, the whole spectrum of colors was represented. We had purple that was used to paint one of the bathrooms and blue from the other. I snagged what was left from when my mother had painted on an old sea captain's trunk a most delightful shade of tangerine. Buttercup yellow from the kitchen and lime green from my bedroom were among the many colors we collected. As we collected our decorating materials, we decided that what needed to be done was some original artwork to adorn our sanctuary. Jackson Pollock's "drips" had nothing over the hand prints we put all over the walls and large-planked wooden floors. My only regret is that I never took any pictures of it. Years later after my house was sold and the new owners discovered my magical hideaway in attic, they made several inquiries to my cousin who lived next door about the artwork in the attic. What a surprise it must have been for them stepping into what appeared to be a colorful insane asylum (if they only knew how true that was).
Many, many years later my eyes twinkle as I think about last summer when I was "home". Somehow it seems fitting that the person who blossomed into a ravishing redheaded vixen is the saucy tart who insisted on giving me a blue streak in my hair that "would wash right out". Ha! All I can say is "thank you, Linda" for reminding me that growing old may be inevitable, but growing up especially when in the company of old, dear friends is quite optional and never preferred.