As much as I talk about myself and my life; it gets a little boring, at least for me. As a general rule I prefer to speak for myself, but I’m willing to make exceptions from time to time.
So here’s another exception to the rule.
Rosa and I were in the same kindergarten class and have been best friends since high school, history class to be exact.
Here’s her version of what it’s like to have me as a friend. ____________________________________________________________
I can’t honestly say I remember the first day we met. As with many friendships, over the years the time we spend together starts to blend and blur. What I do know is that it was September, I had just turned 5 years old, was in kindergarten, and surrounded by a bunch of new kids I wasn’t familiar with yet. What I didn’t know, is that one little girl named Sarah would become my best friend and we would have a friendship that would last into adulthood.
From what I was told, I didn’t speak a lot of English when I was 5 years old. My primary language was Spanish but I could understand English fairly well. Even though I didn’t speak much English at the time, one thing was clear, I liked playing and sharing stuff with Sarah and we became friends. We were just little girls in kindergarten doing what we were supposed to, like learning the alphabet, colors, and enjoying each other’s company. Later in elementary school the unthinkable happened…Sarah went to another school. It was sad that I thought I lost my friend forever (at least forever in a child’s mind), but again what I didn’t know was that we would coincidentally attend the same high school and start our reconnection by staring at each other in a one of our classes.
That morning during our first week of classes Freshman year I do remember clearly. I could see Sarah from across the room but I wasn’t 100% certain if that was my childhood friend or not. She was sneaking a peek at me too when she thought I wasn’t looking and we were probably half listening to what was happening in class. I kept asking myself if that was really Sarah or if it was someone who had a striking resemblance to her. When it was time to head to the next class, we awkwardly looked at each other but knew we had to break the silly stares and see if we were both right about our assumptions. When we confirmed who we were, we started talking excitedly with goofy smiles on our faces. We chatted about the years we were apart, what middle school was like, our summers, family, anything we could think of. And for the rest of high school, if we didn’t have a class together, we would meet in the cafe or the library during breaks when we were free, to talk about our teenaged lives. Sarah also got me interested in Theater, so I joined Drama club so we could talk about the scripts, rehearse our lines, and of course, hang out after school and have even more reason to talk on the phone in the evening (and have a good excuse to give to our parents as to why we were tying up the landline for 2 hours!).
We hoped to go to the same college, but sadly that wasn’t meant to be. But we certainly compared our college experiences at our respective schools our first semester, shared crazy stories, complained about some of our lengthy homework assignments, and of course counted down the semesters end and rejoiced after finals week to talk about what we would do over summer breaks. My friendship with Sarah has never been different or unusual in my eyes. We talk about stuff we’re interested in, like to go to the mall and shop around, and in our adult years discuss where we want to see our future’s head to and dreams of how we’ll get there. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, Sarah has always been Sarah to me.
I think we really started to get into in-depth conversations about disabilities when we were in college. Of course Sarah and I had conversation about issues she had, how hard it was getting around, or surgeries, but I still didn’t look at her differently. I knew that if she wanted to go for something, she would try to do it like everyone else. Remembering our kindergarten years I can’t remember Sarah being that much different. We enjoyed similar things and we liked to play, I really didn’t remember her having an assistant aid her in the classroom in kindergarten until she mentioned it one day. I didn’t view Sarah as that much different from anyone else.
I remember one time when Sarah recalled a story of someone looking at her in her wheelchair and talking to her as if she was 12 years old. Her sneakers happened to be the same color of her wheelchair and the person thought that would be a good conversation starter. She promptly let them know through that discussion that she was in college, and Sarah let me know the expression of the person’s face when she realized Sarah was an intelligent young woman. The story gave me a good laugh, because the person had obviously underestimated Sarah’s wit. But it also brought up the topic of how people with physical disabilities often get misjudged because of their appearance. Of course Sarah has to put more thought in how she goes about things, especially if she needs to travel, but the point is that she will still get it done.
It’s been 20+ years since we first became friends and our friendship has grown considerably since then. One thing that hasn’t changed however, is that I still view Sarah as someone who can do whatever she puts her mind to. In some instances she has accomplished some things that I wished I had done like live in another state, volunteer for a year for an organization away from home, go to college out of state, write more creative short stories and start a blog just to name a few. Sarah has always been like a sister, motivating me or giving me a push when I needed it. Someone I can talk to when I felt frustrated, or want to share great news with. She’s my best friend, and no whatever what people see or assume about her physically, she has probably done more than some people our age have done.
*A similar version of this post was written on March 28, 2013