I met Melissa when we were both 2 years old. I was a month from turning three, and she was three months from turning three. She lived across the street, and we lined our toes up with the edge of the curb, and talked back and forth. Melissa was soon my first and best friend... and remained so for the duration of my childhood. We are still friends to this day. :)
In 1970 the world was different. In my mind, girls had long hair and wore dresses and "girl shoes" (Mary Janes). Melissa had a pixie haircut. Being as that I was only two, and she didn't have pigtails like I did, I didn't know if she was a little boy or a little girl. So I asked her which she was. She wasn't offended. It was all very matter of fact. "I'm a girl", she said in her singy-songy voice as we climbed on my mothers porch chairs. And we continued to play happily.
We talked, and shared. Both of us deeply believed in our hearts that all the cats were girls, and all the dogs were boys. We knew that friends always shared, even if it was just a single banana. And we sectioned bananas apart with sticky fingers, taking turns getting bites. Toads would turn to princes if we kissed them, (but who wants to kiss a toad?!) And if we could just swing high enough, we could touch the clouds.
No matter how silly our notion, if one friend said it, the other believed it as if it were etched in stone. Never once did I doubt my dear friend, nor she doubt me.
When Daddy mowed the grass, we made 'houses' from the clippings, outlining the 'walls' of our dream houses. Never did it dawn on us to not include the other. We were best friends.
We watched movies, including Winnie the Pooh. Looking back we learned wisdom from Pooh, even if we didn't realize it then. The innocence of childhood, and the true-ness of friendship. Pooh loved his boy, Christopher Robin more than anyone in the world. If Christopher Robin lived 100 years, then Pooh wanted to live 100 hundred years minus one day, so that he would never have to live one day without him. Melissa and I believed we would be best friends forever.
When we went to church, (protestant then, as we were both raised), we learned that we were to love our neighbor. To treat others as we ourselves wanted to be treated. Wasn't that what friends were supposed to do? Play nice. Share. Take turns. And if we can't say something nice, to just not say anything at all. Gossiping makes you a gossip. Lying makes you a liar and no one trusts you... and besides, why would you lie to your friend? Best friends don't lie to each other.
Have things really changed over the last forty years? I'd say yes.. the moral decline of the world... but those old truths are still... true. What our mothers told us, and what we learned in Sunday School, and what we knew true in our hearts... it's all the same. It all still applies even though we're not kids anymore. But I think it matters more now... now that 'we' are the grown-ups. Fairness, honesty, integrity, and being a good friend. Do we still follow what we were raised with? I like to think that I do... but I know there are times when I don't. I know that if I was able to meet the 8 year old version of myself, would I want to be my own friend? Or would I think I was a big jerk? How much different am I than I was then? Not in the child/adult way... that's a gimme. But in the knowing of what is RIGHT and what is WRONG... and how we react to things.
All the Pooh Bear quotes that breezed over our heads as kids are rather profound now... People we love come and go from our lives. We all experience life, love, loss, heartache... and loss of friendships be it by death or friends that have just moved out of our lives...But that "if there ever comes a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever." How true. And I do. I've also learned that "You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes."... even when it's difficult. Pooh Bear taught us that "A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference.", and then honestly and truly, we are ALL bears of "very little brain". Pooh taught us that "Before beginning a Hunt, it is wise to ask Someone (God), what you are looking for before you begin looking for it."
Pretty smart for a 'silly ol' Bear'.
And in the story, Pooh Bear and Christopher Robin will always be best friends, playing. And in my memories, there will always be two little girls, holding hands and swinging as high as they can.. one with a pixie hair-do and one with long pigtails. And singing the song of friendship and summertime and innocence.