One cold March day [it was 1942], my mother stuffed me into my snowsuit and shoved me out into the front yard. To be told to play out front was a surprise. Usually I was confined to the hedged-in back. “There’s a family looking at the house across the street,” she said. “Maybe they’ll have a little girl for you to play with.”
I was an only child.
I plowed as far as I could into the knee deep wet snow. Sure enough, I saw a mother wearing a coat with a big furry collar, a father wearing a daddy hat, and a little girl in a blue coat with matching leggings that were zippered at the ankles like mine. She looked grumpy, as if she wanted to be any place else except standing hip deep in snow.
“Can your little girl come out to play?” I yelled. I wasn’t allowed to cross the street by myself, so I had to yell, even though it wasn’t polite.
The mother laughed and waved. “Maybe later, we’re going to look inside.”
“How old is she?” I yelled, pointing. Pointing was a no-no, too.
“Two-and-a-half. How old are you?”
“I’m almost three,” I bragged. “I’m tall for my age.” The girl looked very small.
The family did buy the house and Al, Betty and Bonnie moved in several months later.
When Bonnie and I started school we walked together holding hands. We played dress-ups and baby dolls, learned to ride bikes and skip rope, we giggled and fought, pulled hair and tried to catch each other’s illnesses at our mothers’ urging, and, strangely, we whispered into each other’s mouths when we had secrets to share. In high school we pursued different interests, her, band, me, orchestra, her, yearbook, me, newspaper. We drifted apart over the years, though never far apart in our thoughts.
She ended up in Florida, well away from the snow she hated. I ended up in Virginia where it doesn’t snow as much as I’d like. We met up at high school reunions, though she attended more regularly than I. When Bonnie emailed that she and husband Paul would be traveling through Virginia — ticking things off her bucket list — she wanted to know if they could stop and say hello? Could they ever!
Now that we are seventy-four — well I am, she is seventy-three for 18 more days — she is the only person left who has known me nearly all my life, and except for one much older cousin, the reverse is true for her as well.
Nowadays, my old friend goes by her middle name because when she met her to-be husband he was dating another Bonnie, though she didn’t know that for some time. He told her he really liked her middle name. He’s always called my Bonnie, “Lynn.” She’s been his Lynn for fifty years, but for seventy-two of her years, she’s been Bonnie to me.
* * *
Yesterday was The Day. From the minute they arrived, we laughed and gabbed and reminisced. Our husbands tolerated us well. I hated to say goodbye. Even if she does live in Florida, visiting her has long been on my bucket list. Now it’s underscored and ranks just after “go to Antarctica.” BTW, both of them were cold all day, our 65 degrees too chilly for their thinned blood.