I knew I had a friend with straight brown hair, down just past her shoulders, and I looked for her everywhere. When I moved to the country, the girl next door made a friend of me. She was a wild Irish girl named Sheila. Her hair was red and curly and her five brothers and sisters had dark curly hair, and the blue eyes of the black Irish, the children of the Spanish warriors. Kim was a friend too, but her hair was long long long and bright white blond, and very thick. She was an only child like me, but her father lived with her. He was often angry and smelled of whiskey.
I remembered how my friend’s brown hair fell across her face when she leaned into her work. We all sat in rows at our desks and used fat green pencils, mine had masking tape around the end to discourage chewing. We had uniforms and I remember the blue of the jumper, the white of the shirt, and the brown of her hair.
When I moved again I tried to be friends with a girl who had straight brown hair down just past her shoulders, but she didn’t like me very much. And then I moved again and then I went away to school. There were so many different people. And then I ended up back where I started, in a big city.
I was in the park one day, in that big city, with some friends who were coming and going. I was swinging, in the halfhearted way teenagers swing. I looked over to the ever-changing group of friends and there she was, sitting on a picnic table, and she looked at me and I knew it was her and she knew it was me. I felt a piece fall back into place as I remembered it all.
I remembered gym uniforms with bloomers, and how we dug for worms in the park and did our best to keep our bloomers clean. I remembered the lockers in our 1st grade classroom, the nuns walking down the hall leading the two-by-two lines, and nap-time lying on blue mats with our heads apart but our hands close enough to touch, each reminding the other that it was going to be ok.
You see, I was always a year ahead of everyone, a year younger than the others in my grade, because I was smart I thought. I had been “moved ahead” I thought and I thought this until I was 23-years-old. When I was 23-years-old my grandmother died and I sifted through her belongings, and what I found was this: I found a written progress report from the nuns, from when I was 4-years-old, and this is how it read: “Linet is showing signs of anxiety this year, probably due to changes at her home. However she has a friend in Senior Kindergarten who makes comfortable, so we have moved her into Senior Kindergarten to be with her friend, Miranda”.