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I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Meeting Jay

It was 1961, I was eleven, and I didn't want to meet him. Truth is, I didn't have much respect for stateside kids. They were always terribly flawed is some way.

Like: They couldn't go barefooted.
Or, they couldn't climb trees.
Or, they were afraid of bugs.
Or, they didn't know how to swim very well.
Or, they didn't like the idea of walking a couple of miles to get to a beach.
Or, they were whiny and complained about most everything.
Or, worst of all, they didn't have any imagination.

Jay's mom had arrived a couple of months early to set up a household. Her husband and son were to follow at the end of the school year. Because the  population of St. John was so small, everybody knew everybody and the the arrival of new people was both a curiosity and a change of scenery. Betty fit right in. She was colorful, talented, and friendly. It wasn't long before she was hobnobbing with other mothers, which meant I soon learned she had a son just my age. She was positive we'd get along great and that I'd just love him.

Of course, I knew better.

Fourth of July came around and I was running around in the park in Cruz Bay, along with a lot of other kids. There was all kinds of stuff happening. Food booths and tables were wafting the aromas of whelk fritters, conch chowder, and kallaloo (to name just a few) into the air. A steel band was playing. Beer and alcohol was flowing. Adults were visiting. It was a wonderful crowded, noisy, mishmash.

In the midst of all that Betty spotted me, called me over, and grabbing me by my arm said, "Jay's here! Let me introduce you."

Being raised to be polite to my elders, I couldn't get away. But I was cringing inside. We'd be going to the same school. We'd have to see each other every day. And I KNEW, I wouldn't like him. Experience had already taught me that stateside kids were whoosies.

Now, I was short for my age and a slow grower.


My sister, Erva, and I, in 1960 a year before I met Jay. She's about 14, I'm about 10. When standing next to her, people who didn't know me thought I was maybe 6 or 7. This irritated me to no end because it caused people to treat me like a baby. 

Back to the story... So there I am being pulled along by Betty and when she pointed to where Jay was standing by the old cannon, my first thought was, "Oh my god, what a little dwarf."

At the sound of his name being called, he turned and our eyes met. At 11 neither of us understood what was happening or had the words for it, though years later we talked about it.

Before we ever spoke a word,  we recognized each other. It was like like we were old friends who'd known each other before in another life and were absolutely thrilled to be together again. It was powerful and immediate.

From that moment on we were pretty much inseparable and the ratio in our heights remained the same into adulthood.
I have four pictures of us in this basic stance. That's my dog, Anna, behind us.

Did you have a childhood BFF? If you did, how did you meet? Are you still friends? 

15 comments:

  1. He wasn't a whoosie after all!
    I'm still friends with my best friend from Jr. High, although we've grown apart a bit. Just different lifestyles.

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  2. You were meant to be friends.

    Most of my childhood friends drifted away, but a girl I met in high school is still my best friend today.

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  3. I love this story, Bish. I am not friends with anyone from junior or senior high, sadly. I envy those of you who have maintained childhood friendships.

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  4. Love this post, Bish. And Jay is a dwarf!!! But I know about that instant connection bit ...

    I am not in touch with any of my schoolmates after we moved to the US. I wrote letters but after a year, the responses weren't forthcoming. People move on ... but I still think about them once in a while and they show up in my stories.

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  5. So glad you met and kept a best friend. It's so special to share a long history with someone. And isn't that an amazing experience to see someone and immediately recognize them as someone you already know?

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  6. This is so sweet and I can just see the setting you described! What a wonderful story!

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  7. Hey, Bish!

    Love the photo. Would have loved it if we ever took one of you, Jay and me in the "elevator going up" positions! the picture you posted of us was at a time when the differences in our heights was probably at its greatest...now it's only about 3 to 4 inches...allowances for stretching and shrinkage with age! Still, given when that photo with Anna was taken, it's too bad we all missed on that group shot opportunity.

    Great days and wonderful times!

    Love,
    Erva

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  8. My childhood BFF and I are still friends. We met when we were three.

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  9. So wonderful. I haven't had a friendship for that long, but I have relationships that I treasure. I lose touch with people and sometimes we meet again and don't mesh because of all the changes. What you have is very special.

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  10. Ha, I love this story. Friends are precious. I had a special childhood friend, but unfortunately I had to move away and we didn't keep in contact.

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  11. Cool story. I've drifted away from most of the friends I had in high school, but found a lot of them again through Facebook. The friend I have that's been with me since I've known myself is a female cousin.

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  12. Great story
    Why is it, just when one makes up their mind not to like someone, it turns out to be a great friendship. I still have one friend left from kindergarten. Many of us have kept in touch all these years until recently.

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  13. Hi, Bish. What a great story about the first time you met Jay. So cool to have that instant connection.

    I had a close friend all through elementary, middle, and high school. We even stayed in touch after we both got married, but then drifted apart. Haven't talked to her in over 20 years.

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  14. Love this story, love the picture. I've moved so much and moved so far away, not really in touch with any of my childhood friends, but I do have one good girlfriend that I met at my first job after college. We still visit each other today and talk regularly on the phone.

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  15. Great story. Thanks for sharing the story and the photos, which really add a nice touch to the story.

    I moved away and am horrible at keeping in touch but was friends with the first person I met, and she says I followed her around like a lost puppy for days, in second grade until we graduated from college. It didn't start out with that wonderful connection but it certainly grew.
    I am so calling her tomorrow.

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