WHEN I was a young girl I had a best friend named John. We were inseparable and we created a magic world whenever we were together. He lived across the street from my house. On warm summer nights we would set up camps on our front porches and with flashlights we sent secret codes to one another from across the street.
John was the first person in my life to get who I really was. I was a Tomboy. When we were together I could just be me. I always had dirt under my nails, scratches on my knees and fly away hair. I loved mud puddles, catching snakes and turtles and climbing trees. John’s sister was my age and also my friend but I couldn’t relate to her made up face, perfect hair, polished nails and high heeled shoes. I wasn’t like all the other girls and he didn’t care. We were best friends, period, end of story.
One summer we built a go-cart together with discarded things that we found while digging in trash cans around the neighborhood. We had dreams of being in the Soap Box Derby and could see ourselves zooming down the hill and winning the race with our go-cart. Dumpster diving itself was so much fun. We took turns diving headfirst into the garbage can to see what treasures we could uncover while the other one played look out for angry neighbors. We found wheels and rope and wood and all kinds of things to build a go-cart with. The go-cart we created was the most beautiful green and yellow car, with steering that actually worked and it could fly down the hills with one of us at the helm like a rocket.
John and I spent a lot of time in the woods near our house creating hide-a-ways that only we were allowed to use. We snuck things from our houses to make our hide-a-way cozy just like a house. The forest was our playground and we were its king and queen. One time we built a fort in a patch of poison ivy and I had a terrible allergic reaction that put me in the hospital for several days, yet that didn’t keep me from going to play in the forest. I preferred playing in the woods to playing, with dolls which I thought was a silly thing to do.
When I was 13 and John was 11 he went to the State Fair and ended up in the hospital very sick. We wrote notes back and forth and I sent him rubber bugs because we each had a collection. I sent on of my favorite bugs from my collection because I wanted him to feel happy. This was my way of keeping the magic alive while he got better. One day after John had been in the hospital about 3 week and I was excited for him to come home his mother came to my house and told me he had died. At first I thought she was lying. I couldn’t even imagine life without him.
I have missed him over the years because he was my first partner in the dream and we taught each other to open up to the magic of the world.