Friday, March 4, 2011

Happy Birthday to a "Lost Friend"

Somewhere out there is a friend from my childhood I've had no contact with since right around the time we started high school.  Today would be her birthday.

Although we spent a lot of time together as children, we grew apart in what is now called the pre teen years.  We spent a lot of time playing Barbie and Ken.  I had a Barbie, she had a Ken.  Oh, if only I had that Barbie now, it probably is worth a bunch of money.  It must have been purchased in the first couple of years after Barbies came out.  It had blonde hair in an early 60's a la Mad Men hairstyle, and a small wardrobe including a red pencil skirt and a (my pride and joy) wedding gown.  Its arms and legs would not bend (I so wished they would be able to) and its feet were shaped to only accept high heeled shoes. 

Her Ken had brown hair, plastic.  Its arms and legs didn't bend either.  We would take our dolls on "dates".  My Barbie was her Ken's fiancee.

We did other things too, not just playing with Barbies.  I loved being in her apartment, with the plastic covered furniture.  Everything was so clean.  There was a reason for that.

Her mother had a heart condition and was ill.  She needed to be on oxygen.  Yet, she was very kind to me and after my mother died, I would sometimes go down to her apartment (we lived in the same apartment building) and she would feed me breakfast. Then, my friend and I would walk to junior high together.

When we had our junior high graduation, we went to a beauty parlor early in the morning and had our hair done together.  The graduation was at the Loews Paradise in the Bronx, one of the most beautiful movie theatres of all time.  Of course, at that time we never realized what a treasure we had in our own back yards (so to speak - we had no back yards in our apartment building.)  (My high school graduation was there, too.)

Why did we grow apart?  It's complicated but....in the City there were very few options if you lived in a school district that had terrible schools.  Our local high school (now closed, in its original form, broken up into several smaller schools inside the building) was Evander Childs.  At one time it was considered an excellent school.  By the mid 60's, one did not aspire to go there (later it became even worse, which is why it was finally closed.  Consider this:  both the junior high and high school I went to were closed down because they were so terrible.)  I escaped that urban blight of a high school by passing an exam and being accepted to a high school called the Bronx High School of Science. 

My friend?  She didn't, and went to Evander Childs.

At any rate, I have not seen her in about 40 years.

Whereever you are, friend of my childhood, I hope you've had a good life.  I've looked for you on Facebook without success.  So I hope you are alive and well.  Happy birthday.  Maybe one day we'll find each other, and maybe we'll find we have something to connect us once again.  I hope so.

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