When I was in the last few months of being a fourth grader, my family moved from the place we had called home since I was five years old. This meant having to go into a new school at the end of the school year. This meant all the other fourth graders had their friends and weren't too interested in the new kid. My first day I found myself in what everyone referred to as a "portable." It was actually a trailer that had been set up outside the school building because there were more kids than space, and to accommodate all the students, portable classrooms had been pulled onto the grounds and set up.
I remember thinking it was kind of cool to have a classroom in a trailer, but when I sat down at the desk the teacher pointed out to me the first day, the coolness factor evaporated and was replaced by feeling completely self-conscious. My knees wouldn't fit under the desk when I scooted my chair forward; they were actually higher than the desk top itself. And there was no other desk at which I could sit. Trying to concentrate on the class materials when I was so uncomfortable and just sure everyone was laughing at me (which I don't remember anyone doing so) was impossible.
At one point in the day, we all had to leave the portable and go into the school building for another class. I was relieved to be able to sit at a table where my legs fit underneath just like all the other kids. And it was at this table where I met the girl who today is my oldest friend. She was drawing a picture (which I would find out she was always doing). I watched. We began talking. She loved horses. I had a horse. From that moment on, we were nearly inseparable. If she wasn't at my house, I was at hers. If we weren't riding the horses, we were swimming in the pool. If we weren't hanging out in her bedroom, we were at the little league field, playing ball. So many fun times happened during the next four years with this friend of mine.
Though my family moved again just before my freshman year in high school, my friend and I stayed in touch. And though we went through months, sometimes a year or longer, of not hearing from the other, all it took was one call, one letter, one email and it was like we'd never been apart. We both have had tough times, had our own struggles, but we both soldiered on. We both are stronger for it all. And all that drawing she did? Well, today she's a successful artist.
This afternoon when I gathered the mail from the mailbox, I found amidst the junk mail a pale blue envelope with my friend's handwriting on it. I opened it to find a lovely note along with a gift card to a very well-known coffee shop, which will come in handy during the ride this summer. I look forward to using the card, and each time I do, I'll smile, thinking of my dear friend who has always been there for me, no matter what.