I met Debbie when I was "the new kid at school" in the fifth grade. My family moved into her community just days before Christmas, and when classes resumed after the first of the year, I stumbled, wide-eyed and scared to death, into a strange class room. Debbie was friendly. She was the first kid to speak to me, offered to be my friend, and has stuck to her word for 35 years.
Debbie was the kind of friend every girl wanted to have. She never stole a boyfriend, never talked about me behind my back, never quit hanging out with me to hang out with someone more popular, and when she was a cheerleader in Jr. High, (that was back in the day before they called those awful years middle school) she let me come over to her house and jump around, waving her pom poms, and act like an idiot. We had sleepovers where we talked all night and ate cold fried chicken out of her refrigerator. When we went on field trips and had to pack a lunch, my lunches were always boring, but Debbie always had one of those huge dill pickles in her lunch. And she always shared with me. I was terrible at spelling but Debbie was a whiz at it. She has always laughed at me about the way I can't spell, but she was a great help when we were doing homework together.
As a kid, and for many years after childhood, I had a reoccurring dream about Debbie. I dreamed we were both walking and pulling little red wagons. Then suddenly I would be walking down a long tunnel alone, still pulling my little red wagon. The farther I went, the more stuff would accumulate in my wagon. Toys mostly. Ever now and the there would be a gap in the wall of my tunnel and I would look through it and see Debbie, walking down her own tunnel and pulling her little red wagon. She was collecting toys too. No matter how long the tunnel was, I could always find Debbie across from me, in the gap.
We went to school together only four years, then I moved away. But Debbie was not the kind of friend that would let distance or time destroy a friendship. We wrote letters and kept in touch. We each grew up, got married, had children...our little red wagons have turned into big boats and they are both fully loaded. But Debbie is still there in the gaps. On the wonderful but rare occasions when we get to see one another or talk on the phone it's as if there is no time or distance between us. Yep, Debbie is a treasure.
One of those gaps where I know I can always find my friend is my birthday. I don't think Debbie has missed sending me a birthday card--ever. I don't know how she does it, but there is always a card and it is never late. (I wish I could be more like her.) My birthday was in October, and like clockwork, a card from Debbie was delivered to my home address (poor girl didn't have any idea where my temporary home might be.) My daughter called to tell me it had arrived, so I was happy.
It took some time for my kids to get all our mail together, then get their act together, then find a box the right size, then remember, then get their act together again, before they were finally able to send it to me. Then DHL decided that my box of mail needed to travel about the country more than a week before it was finally delivered to me here in Mobile. So I finally get to see my birthday card from my sweet friend Debbie.
Here is the front of the Shoebox Hallmark card.
And here is the tender message inside.What was all that stuff I was saying about Debbie being the kind of friend every girls wants?
Okay dear friends, here it is...my 40 something year-old arm dangle. I've got it but I don't think it is quite ready to be flapping in the wind!
I still love ya Debbie. And I can't think of any other girlfriend with whom I'd rather go "flapping" about the countryside in a red convertible!