I don’t believe in love at first sight. Except, I kind of do.
I was there the day my best friend, Katie, met her husband, Shane. We were standing up to leave a coffee shop as he took the stage for an open mic night. With no shame, he called our asses out and said we needed to stay until his set was over. He totally and undeniably loved her from the moment he saw her. They have been married for almost eight years now and have two kids.
Somehow their oldest is the same age that Katie and I were when we first met. Life. Is. Getting. Too. Weird.
Shane loved Katie the moment he saw her and the thing is– I totally did, too.
A different kind of love but YOU GET IT.
When Katie rolled up into Camden Station Elementary School in the second grade, she had thick wiry hair and purposefully mix-matched socks. I knew in an instant that the new girl from Connecticut was destined to be my BFF.
I knew from the moment I saw her that I needed that brand of quirky in my little world.
She, on the other hand, was reluctant (if not resistant) to becoming best friends. Maybe it was my over-eagerness. Maybe it was the persistence with which I insisted she learn cheers during recess every dang day. Maybe it was my purple plaid “Pocahontas-y” jacket I wore without fail. Who’s to say?
We both remember the day we actually, for real for real, became best friends for life after months of me insisting we do so.
We were in either the second or third grade. It’s hard to say for sure which grade we were in because we were each in Ms. Gaddis’ class both years. And it was 22 or 23 years ago. You lose track.
Our second/third grade class had spent the day going on a field trip to Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo, an Australian themed petting zoo-ish situation. Yes, you can pet KANGAROOS in Kentucky. Kangaroos aside, this was a super special, significant field trip because it was forever away– at least it felt that way.
Imagine being the bus driver for that trip and driving 60 or 70 second and third graders long distance. I can’t. Bless them.
I recently looked it up and Kentucky Down Under was really only like an hour and a half from my elementary school. But it felt soooo farrrrrrr awayyyyy to elementary school kids.
It was so far away, in fact, that our parents had to pick us up because the buses weren’t scheduled to get back from the trip until after school was out for the day. Field trips were never like that! Never!
Guess whose parents definitely, maybe forgot to pick them up and therefore sealed their fate to be forever friends?
While we waited for them to get there, in the age before cell phones, we sat on the OG Camden Station Elementary School playground, in a little cove next to the fire-pole thingy. Katie took apart her little woven keychain made out of long plastic strips that she had learned to make in brownie scouts and taught me how to put them together.
That’s how it all started, folks. That’s the story.
It was unusual for one of Katie’s parents to not be there promptly. I was really lucky they forgot to pick her up for a while in this particular instance. I got Katie and her whole family out of the deal.
Unlike my Bestie, being stranded was something that happened to me a lot when I was growing up. A lot, a lot. Over the last two plus decades, Katie and her family were my saving graces more times than I can remember.
As itty bitties, her parents swooped us up from a great many gymnastics classes, cheerleading practices, and shopping trips to Wet Seal (again, bless).
Her Mom relearned Pre-Calculus so she could save me from failing the class in high school, at which time I had just moved and been forced to transfer to another school in our county. Seriously, she spent hours and hours and hours helping my ass learn Pre-Calculus and her daughter didn’t even go to my school and wasn’t taking that class yet.
In graduate school, after her parents moved to Florida, they continued to invite me to come down for Christmas with Katie, her husband and their kiddos.
When Katie and Shane’s daughter was maybe a year old, I kept her overnight once so they could have a staycation. I definitely got their car, which I had borrowed for car-seat purposes, towed from my apartment complex accidentally. They went and got it and didn’t even let me reimburse them for the costs.
After graduate school, Katie’s parents bought a second home in Lexington for when they came up from Florida to visit Katie and her kiddos. I rented their upstairs bedroom and was their part-time roomie for two or three years until I got married.
On occasion, I have learned the hard way the importance of being really careful about who you let find you when you are forgotten or lonely or feel lost.
In the second (or third???) grade, I got really lucky that Katie was the one who found me.
When my class went to Kentucky Down Under for a field trip, petting a kangaroo was only the second coolest thing that happened to me that day. And that, my friends, is saying something.
Oh, what a day.