I have decided I am in love with Facebook. It is through this fantastic site that my very best friend from childhood, Kathy Steele, found me.
Kathy and I were two peas in a pod from the moment we met. She lived just a few blocks away and we spent a lot of our free time together. We met in early grade school and by the time we were in 5th grade we were inseparable. I loved her house, her family and Kathy. When we were in 5th grade it was the bicentennial year and Kathy and I wrote a TV2 viewpoint (remember those) about our country and what makes it great and TV2 (the old CBS affiliate) chose to have us come to the studio to record our viewpoint. What an exciting day! We learned about teleprompters and took turns talking. That would have been enough to cement each other as best friends but there was so much more. We learned the hustle together in her basement, we baked together, we sang the Debbie Boone classic “You light up my life” as loud as we could on the rocks overlooking Lake Michigan when we went on vacation together. We slept over at each other’s houses all the time and even had the occasional fight. We wore our Madewell pants, listened to the Bee Gees and learned all the lastest dance moves together. I never had a sister and Kathy was as close as I got to one as a child.
Kathy moved to San Francisco just as we were moving into the fun years of high school and I saved every penny I had and bought a plane ticket out to see her the summer after she had moved. I stayed about three weeks with her family and we did everything together once again.
Everything about Kathy was exotic. She was strikingly beautiful even as a child and even more so as she grew into adolescence. She was tall and thin with fantastic bluish green eyes. We were in Girl Scouts together, went to camp together and had our first crushes together. Kathy’s parents were interesting, her father an architect and her mother an artistic soul. Kathy’s house was different than the usual colonials in the neighborhood and was a gorgeous tudor with leaded glass windows.
In San Francisco, getting to her new house was like traveling to a foreign land. It was nestled up in the hilly regions of Marin County and we wove our way through the forested roads to reach her house. Her new school was adapted to the temperate climate as well, so she would exchange classes outside all year long and her school was made up of several small buildings (a la Malcolm in the Middle).
Even with Kathy’s exotic family and qualities, she was the most wonderful, down-to-earth person I knew. She would freeze bras on sleepover nights, do pretend seances and ‘finger-lifts’, she would cook and bake and have a wonderful time and always included me. We played softball together, went to each others swim clubs and played string games like cat’s cradle.
After she moved away, the challenges of a long distance friendship before the age of the internet, text messages, and cell phones took its toll. We lost touch after a few years and then when I tried to find her again as an adult, I couldn’t. Later, I googled her and looked in San Luis Obispo phone books, knowing she went to college there but couldn’t locate her. Time marched on and yet my memories of Kathy remained. Of course I have lots of friends, and even some amazingly good ones but somehow Kathy’s shoes were impossible to fill. In some ways I am sure I romanticized her, making her larger than life. She and I didn’t have to negotiate the challenging high school and college years where many a close friendship are put to the test and adjust accordingly. We never had to survive the times when we were at wildly different points or lost all of our common interests and as a result, now, at the tender age of 43, she can re-enter my life and it is as if nothing has changed.
Kathy found my Facebook profile and made a ‘friend request’ which brought me huge joy! What amazes me most is the we still have so very much in common. We both have kids the same ages, we have all the same hobbies still (running and knitting and cooking) and we love of 70s music the best to this day. Lucky for me, Kathy still has family here and is coming here at the end of January for a wedding. I will actually get to see her in person again! How wonderful!
I wonder if I should wear my Candies shoes or my Izod shirt with the collar up? Perhaps I should dig up a pair of old Madewell pants on ebay for the reunion.
Find your BFF, reminisce, and remember how lucky we are to have Facebook and each day will be your best!
Molly O’Shea, MD Birmingham Pediatrics + Wellness Center