Lately I've been trying to locate someone from my childhood. Her memory and the memory of the elementary friendship we shared 20 years ago tugs at me more during this time of year.
Her name was Becca and she was my opposite in many ways, thin and graceful where I was solid and klutzy, intellectual and intentional where I was distracted and flaky. But she was my best friend, we even fought over a boy once, inasmuch as you can actually fight over a boy in the 6th grade.
Her parents were teachers at the school I attended when my own father was stationed in Germany before retiring from the Army in 1994-95. We met through Girl Scouts and found a mutual love of Lisa Frank Stationery and raw cookie dough. We would write notes to one another and talk about things that I can't remember now.
She taught me how to use plastic cord to make key chain and lanyard art and I taught her how to use a loom to make potholders. We went caroling together at Christmas and had countless sleepovers. She and I had all the makings of life long friends.
One year for Christmas our class went to an open air Christmas Market in a nearby town, it was a maze of stalls with food, mulled wine, hand crafted gift items and kitschy things that little girls love. Becca told me she had bought me a gift at the market and the 2 week wait to find out what it could be was excruciating.
It was a small glass tube, about 12 inches long, with glitter and sequins and little sparkly things inside that would slide back and forth through faintly tinted fluid when you tipped one end or the other up. They are common enough now, things you can find in any toy store, made of plastic and full of themed baubles that momentarily capture your attention.
Something about that gift stuck with me. I spent hours listening to cassette tapes of "Oldies" and watching the glitter slide. The gentle glide of sequins and glitter calmed me and put some of my ADD to rest. I would find myself more able to focus afterward and for years after I moved away that little tube of childhood sat in a place on honor on my antique wardrobe.
This gift, the first fight, the make up conversation about friendship, the sleepovers, the pictures, all of it, have given Becca a sort of hero status in my head. She knew me, and she liked me anyway. Which to the slightly chunky, uncoordinated girl with bad fashion sense and weird music taste, that was an invaluable thing.
Before the age of email and face book, when you moved away you had to write letters, and I was terrible at being a penpal so I lost touch with Becca. I know she moved to Arizona for a bit and then I'm not sure where else. I hope someday to connect with her again, if for no other reason than to thank her for liking me anyway.