Unfortunately that decision didn’t take into account that 11-year old girls still like to run around, so I spent an inordinate amount of time that day chasing my friends – and stopping frequently to haul my hose back up my skinny legs. It was also the first time I’d had my hair “done,” but it would be three more years before I would be allowed to wear lipstick.
In that same memory photo are two other girls in white dresses: my best friends in grade school. There was Rhonalee, who always had a perfect ponytail of long straight hair, which was the diametric opposite of my curly mop, and Sarah, who was as petite as I was not.
Graduation day ended and we drifted apart as we entered a larger, less insulated world of different public schools. Decades passed and sixth grade graduation was all just a sweet memory until I found a surprise in my e-mailbox last week. The subject line: “Are you the same…” was intriguing. And there, thanks to the power of Google, was Sarah, asking if I were the same person who went to parochial school with her. She had found my nonfiction web site and looking at my photo she thought she caught a glimpse of her former classmate.
The prompt for her search? It was February 22, my birthday. She remembered that we used to get the day off from school, back when George Washington’s birthday was a Federal holiday. Something that sadly changed in 1971 when the powers that be decided we would celebrate President’s Day on the third Monday in February (needless to say I was annoyed at that decision).
Anyway, Sarah and I have been trading e-mails, catching up on the intervening decades. We’ve lived very different – and yet very similar – lives. We both have been married forever and we each have four kids. We both have struggled with career goals, aging parents, and the grief of losing a sibling. She’s planning for the holidays with her family – me too. But she lives in Northern Israel and that fact alone changes some of her daily life. I’ve known war from a distance; her children have all served in the army. We both want peace, here, there, everywhere.
On that sunny morning in June, those many years ago, we couldn’t have known the paths we each would take. We also never envisioned that we could meet again in cyberspace. Back then, lost friendships were mourned and then forgotten. But through the remarkable power of the Internet, an idea as foreign as the concept of adulthood to those young girls in white dresses, we are able to revisit our pasts and talk about our futures.
To that I can only add — l’chaim!