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...of Being a Kid
When I was a little kid, we'd bundle up and then spend all day outside, crunching the white parts of the ice in puddles on my gravel driveway; feeling the wind burn our cheeks; breaking off icicles and eating them plain....
About 10 years ago, through switchboard.com, I found the next-door neighbor with whom I used to play most often, and with whom I always had reliable fun; I called her Manhattan number. She agreed to meet me for lunch in my employer's cafeteria, in the IBM building on 57th and Madison at the time.
She arrived, looking like a gorgeous, grown-up, big-city version of the beautiful little, suburban girl I played with nearly every day when we were very young. She was practically breathtaking and I was not prepared to face an adult woman. I don't know why I was expecting someone more the size she was before she moved away at seven. I was thinking of both of us as kids, even as I myself had tried to look extra-successful when I got dressed for work that morning.
She had a Burberry bag and was also wearing work-clothing, and looked prosperous, if not super-happy. It was anti-climactic.
For some moments, we returned to that time more than 25 years prior by talking about her little sister, who was a couple of years younger than us, and how she always hung out with us, but then my friend broke the spell, telling me how her sister had grown up.
I reminded her how she taught me that women had babies by going to the bathroom and producing them that way, which she didn't recall; and how I relished eating my mother's salami and scrambled eggs with her and her sister in our sukkah; and how I loved coming over on Christmas mornings, since I didn't need to be with my family then, as we didn't celebrate the holiday; and of the 1972 Olympics poster of Mark Spitz that she had on her bedroom wall; and how her mother, who was British, had introduced me to the concept of tea with milk, whereas I had only known of it as being served with lemon prior.
My childhood friend told me that her father was still alive, though her mother had died. My heart sank; her mom reminded me of Agent 99 in "Get Smart" looks-wise, and was always warm to me. We also talked about their white sheep-dog, Fluffy, who comforted any of us whenever we cried.
After all, we did not have as much to say to each other as I had hoped, nor did we feel connected by what mattered to us as adults, and I could feel her disappointment at having decided to see me again.
On a day like today, I'm reminded of how I wish that she and I could still just bundle up and go play in the snow, without trying to dress to impress, without having to talk almost at all.