first best friends

July 12, 2011 |  Category:   friends life outings remembering

We had a reunion of sorts last week. Some old friends of ours who moved away to Australia 4 years ago finally came back to Brooklyn for a visit. The younger siblings were just babies when our friends moved away, but Mia and her old friend could not have been more excited to see each other after all those years. Quite honestly, we’re all sort of surprised at how much the girls remember. They were only 3 when they parted, but they still often refer to each other as best friends. I don’t think any of us really knew what to expect as each girl had built up the moment so much as the week of their visit drew near, but after an initial awkward moment of frozen faces and long, silent stares, the girls got on as if 4 years never passed and had the best time all week.

Mia and her friend have known each other since they were just a few weeks old (her mom was my first “mom” friend) and the girls spent a lot of time together in those early years. As a new parent, there are a lot of “firsts” that are significant and these 2 shared many “firsts”. At age 2, they were both starting to string together words into sentences, but I’ll never forget overhearing them engaging in what would become their first real conversation over snacks, sitting down across from each other at the table:

“I like your bib.”
“Thanks. It has cows on it.”

So I wonder, do you ever forget your childhood best friend? Because I never forgot. I remember. Her name was Lana and she lived next door, only our friendship didn’t consist of just playdates at each others’ houses – it was more unusual than that. We lived high up on the 14th floor of a tall apartment building in Queens and we shared a balcony that was separated by a green rippled plastic divider. I don’t remember exactly how I met Lana, but she must have been playing out on her balcony when I was doing the same and I think one day we started talking to each other after our curiosities got the best of us. I must have been 5 or so. Our friendship began on that balcony, each of us staying on our respective sides, laying on our tummies on the astroturfed floor and talking to each other through the narrow crack between floor and divider. It came to be where we’d call on each other daily after school and on weekends, calling out the other’s name if we were the first one out on the balcony. “Lana!”, “Lana!”, I remember yelling, my face either peered around the edge of the divider so I can see her side of the balcony on my tippy-toes, or with my face pressed to the floor to look under that crack. If she were home she’d come rushing out of her apartment, but there were days when I would call for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, and I’d finally give up, sadly going back inside. Eventually, the plastic divider that separated our balconies would crack near the bottom edge from the both of us tugging at it so much, and one day we were able to pull it apart from the frame like a trap door, slipping through to the other side to play.

I do remember going to her house for playdates and she coming over to mine. We must have as I can’t imagine that we did this when the weather got super cold (though I do remember calling her name to see if she were home all bundled up in a coat). Our friendship, however, consisted largely of our balcony playdates. It was like our own secret passageway. I don’t know when Lana moved, but she did. I remember peering into the next door balcony often after she moved away, hoping that I’d see my best friend, but I never saw her again.

I’d be curious to see if Mia and her friendship with her first best friend grows. Since they were so young when she moved away, I wonder if they both created memories of each other based on photos and hearing old stories rather than from real memories. Now that they are seven, their connection to each other will become that much more solid and real. One thing is clear. There was always a special bond between these two and I doubt that they’ll ever forget each other, regardless of what happens.

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  • Ana July 12, 2011 at 6:51 am

    This is so beautiful, I can’t wait for Emma to have her first BFF. That sounds just magical.

  • erin July 12, 2011 at 9:16 am

    This is a beautiful story. I think the bonds between young girls are some of the strongest there are. I remember my first best friend fondly, but we’ve grown apart in the 15+ years since we had playdates after school. This entry makes me want to give her a call and see how she’s doing. Mia is very lucky indeed, and the distance between Brooklyn & Australia isn’t really all that bad πŸ™‚

  • shalini July 12, 2011 at 9:28 am

    What a beautiful post. Loved reading about your daughter’s first real conversation…too cute for words.

    I remember my best friend from when I was 8 years old and joined boarding school…we used to having a sharing partner with whom we used to share tuck, goodies that we bring from home, and that’s how friendships were usually defined in the early years in school!

  • Anna @ D16 July 12, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I do remember my first best friend. We met on the first day of kindergarten, and we stayed friends all the way through high school (for about 6 years we even lived across the street from each other)β€”and now we’re friends again on Facebook. I haven’t seen her in person in 18 years, but there is no doubt in my mind that we’d still get along famously if we were to reunite.

    I actually remember the first day I met her. I can even remember that she was wearing red corduroy overalls. Isn’t that amazing?

  • Hayley July 12, 2011 at 11:14 am

    I remember my first real best friend. Our neighborhood was fairly new and I saw a little girl (about my age: 7) riding her bike with her mom. I actually *ran after them* hoping to catch them because I thought hey, A FRIEND! I didn’t catch up though. The next day, however, my dad and I rode *our* bikes and low and behold, we passed by the girl’s house and she was outside, and after stopping to chat (they had moved in a week before us)…after sharing some Gushers, we were inseparable for the next 7 years we both lived there.

    I don’t think you ever really forget those friendships. Making friends as little kids seems so easy. Looking back, I can’t believe I ran after somebody because I thought she might be my friend, but I did, and it sort of worked, in a roundabout sort of way. Those friendships stick to you like glue, and I think they become almost less about the friendship and more about what knits you together as a person — you move away eventually, but that friendship lingers on as a part of you, even if you lose touch, because it’s so organic.

  • Simone July 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Oh my goodness. I’ve been following your blog in silence for a little while now and I love it. Today you really struck a chord with me and made me homesick. I moved to California from Australia 2 years ago and my 5 year old daughter still talks about her best friend Jessie. They were just 3 when we moved here but had known each other 3-4 times a week from birth. She misses her still, just like I still miss Jessie’s mum. So many wonderful memories now flooding back……. Thank goodness for Skype though πŸ™‚ And thank you for you lovely blog!

  • Lani July 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    I’m so glad they are having this visit. It always felt like a pretty special bond they had. My first best friend, Leilani, I met in kindergarten and we are still best friends 62 years later.

  • Audrie July 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    I was 7 when I met my first best friend and when she was sent to a different school when we were 10, we were heartbroken. She lived next door to the school, so she’d wait outside for me so we could meet for a few precious minutes before my bus left. The school moved to another site when I was 12 and I saw her a few more times before I moved to Australia. We had brief contact in our 20s and then I moved around a lot, finally ending up in CT. I really wish we didn’t lose contact a second time!

  • Leilani July 12, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    @Lani…Mahalo! Do you find it as amazing as I do after all these years, long separations in distance and time, and such different lives that we can still pick up right where we left off as if it had been yesterday? First bff can truly be forever. Such a wonderful gift to have you still in my life.

  • Dana July 12, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    I like your bib, thanks, it has cows on it!!!! I love that!!

  • PJ July 13, 2011 at 12:17 am

    What a sweet post! I’m lucky to have two sisters who qualify as my first best friends, but I did just Google my best friend from 8th grade. Even though we have lost touch, I think if we saw each other tomorrow, it would be as if no time had passed for us either!

  • Janine July 13, 2011 at 4:41 am

    This past weekend my brother-in-law’s family came for their first visit for 5 years. I couldn’t believe how much my daughter (9) and her cousin (8) could remember from the last visit and they got on so well!.

    I went to childbirth classes before I had my daughter and still meet regularly with the other mums, my daughter regards those 4 friends, all born within a couple of weeks, as her best friends as they have known each other their whole lives – their personalities have all remained the same too. School friends just don’t match up as far as she’s concerned.

  • Diane July 13, 2011 at 9:08 am

    What beautiful memories – stirring my own of a week-long friend through my grandparents’ fence – she had chicken pox so we couldn’t crossover. I never saw her again but I gave my favorite doll her name – Madeline – and to this day her name and the memory are very special. I LOVE your photos and your posts!

  • Jenna July 13, 2011 at 9:10 am

    @Diane, Mia’s friend named her American Girl doll “Mia” after her too!

  • Caitlin July 14, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    I love this, so beautiful. I have been friends with my first best friend since we were three, 28 years of friendship now. She lives around the corner from me in Astoria and, even when we go weeks without talking, we’re able to pick up right where we left off. We both have other friends who might be our closer every day friends, but nothing compares to what we have. So sweet that the girls were able to reconnect.

  • Justine July 14, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    Here’s the mom to mom equivalent of “nice bib.” Where is Mia’s fab jump suit from and what are those cute sandals all the girls are wearing?

  • Emily July 15, 2011 at 10:41 am

    ohhh, what a sweet post and very timely for me…I met my first best friend when I was 5, she was 7…on the school bus. She was new from Florida, Tiffany, tan, blonde (opposite of me! pale white and mouse brown hair) and wearing awesome pink flamingo jeans that I coveted (come to find out, I’d had the same jeans when I was 3). We chatted on the bus and became besties. My mom became her “adoptive”mom (hers was still in FL) and over the next 6 years we were like sisters. During her annual visit to her mom’s in FL between 5th and 6th grade, she decided to stay with her mom. My heart was broken and I was friendless (*we were also the poor kids at the rich’ish school). She would visit her dad every summer after that but we drifted during those formative teenage years slightly. We did stay in touch via letters (no internet then! and long distance calls were $$$!) Eventaully she moved to TX and married her sweetheart. I was her maid of honor. She was also in my wedding. She’s expecting her first baby (actually, miracle twins) any day now and it kills me that I won’t be there. I want to love and hold them like they’re my own and let them know that just like my mom was Tiff’s second mom, I will be theirs. So lucky to still have my childhood best friend. <3

  • Jenna July 16, 2011 at 12:04 am

    @Justine the clothes are (surprise) from Ismodern and the sandals are Saltwater sandals

  • Sarah July 22, 2011 at 2:01 am

    Aww this was awesome and beautiful. I hope Mia and her friend stay in touch just because its significant moment. . I dont think we ever forget our childhood friend. I was thinking about mine the other day Amy. She and I met in Kindergarten or 1st grade and were really close. ….Sadly we lost our connect after she moved. But I seriously think about her from time after time over the years wondering what she was up to.

  • carolyn July 26, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    I loved reading this and seeing you guys. We had such a great time in Brooklyn and I miss it already. The friendship between the girls is so sweet. Even if it does not stay this strong forever, I’m glad they both have it to build future friendships on. After we saw you we spent 3 days in CT and the only person I saw was, surprise, surprise, my own first best friend Pam.

  • Nadege September 6, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Wow your photos are just beautiful, I love your vision