My Childhood Best Friend

Originally, I'd been thinking about funny ideas to write about regarding Mr. Burns from The Simpsons.  He is one of my all time favorite characters.  But as I thought about him, I started to think about the best friend I had throughout my childhood, a woman I am friends with to this day, and someone I am certain knows all of the words to Mr. Burns' song, "See My Vest."

I met KJ, as I will call her, when she was not yet eight years old, and I was three years older than her.  Most of us probably have that certain friendship we can mark as the first one that truly began to shape us.  I had friends throughout elementary school, but until I met KJ, I had never had a friend that truly began to make that significant impact on my life.  She was the first true best friend that I ever had.  I am fortunate that I can look back on that with not just nostalgia but a thankfulness that I still have her in my life.

Being a teenager is pretty much the worst, so it was a blessing I was matched somehow with KJ.  Despite our age difference and the fact that we went to separate schools, she was always there to make the bad things right again.  I was basically a social outcast, but KJ was well liked, pretty, an athlete; I felt like if she could be my friend then perhaps I wasn't a loser after all.  That was a relief!

When I think back on her during those years, I am struck by her composure.  Even then, I always admired how stoic she could be.  Some people mistake the composure of others as a lack of sensitivity or feeling, but that is simply not true.  KJ was very sensitive to the feelings of others and her own feelings, she just never made a scene.  Some people say they hate drama and a spectacle, but she really did, and she behaved accordingly - a rare trait for teenager!  Rarely did I ever see her cry.  Our blue eyes have often met each other's in unspoken emotion ranging anywhere from mirth to humiliation, but rarely has it resulted in a scene.  Her composure made a huge impact on me, even to this day.  I was way more prone to outbursts than she was; next to me, she was downright regal!

She was a welcome guest in my home, loved by my parents and friends with my sisters.  She lived just eight blocks away and when she came over, she would come in the backdoor and straight to my bedroom.  I remember when I had knee surgery, I was stressed out because my room was such a mess and I couldn't clean it.  She made her way through the winter night to come over and clean my bedroom for me.  She wasn't just a friend as a noun, she was a friend.  A verb.  She took the action of a friend.

She was also incredibly funny (and still is!).  She has the best sense of humor, and has great timing for a joke.  She also did impressions, could easily remember the funniest lines from a TV show or movie, and I always felt there was no limit with her.  Prior to writing this, I watched an old home video I took on the night before I moved away from my hometown.  She was with me in our hotel room, and we were rambling on about how deep our voices were and then I turned the camera directly on her and she didn't even crack a smile, and said, "How do you like me now?"  And then repositioning her leg, "Or now?" I cannot help but laugh out loud!

During the most difficult moments of my life, she was there; thoughtful, sympathetic, composed.  She discouraged me from making regretable decisions, but was a great comforter in my time of need.  When my boyfriend (now my husband) broke up with me, she was there and she got me through it.  And when I called her to tell her I would be moving to another country, her voice was calm and she expressed how awesome it was for me, a dream come true.

The night that I said goodbye to her, before an early flight the next morning, she hugged me without a single tear and I loved her for that.  Neither of us cried, not because we didn't care, but because we both knew that was not going to make things easier.  She gave me peace and reassurance, which even at her age she seemed to know mattered so much.

She is in her thirties now, a beautiful wife and mother, a skilled healthcare professional, and yet still the same hilarious girl I met almost 25 years ago.  Friendships change over time, and years and miles have developed our friendship in ways we could not have foreseen, but she is still there for me, still my friend.  I believe that she set a precedent for friendship in my life. She set a standard and because of that, I met a few other girls with whom I have developed lifelong friendships, all of which have made a significant impact on me.

I hope if she reads this, her response will be to tent her fingers together very Mr. Burns like and murmur, "Excellent."


  1. "Being a teenager is pretty much the worst" truer words have never been spoken!


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