At some point, maybe 6th grade, I think, my mom got a job two hours away - in Kansas City. It was a good, steady job with benefits. She began commuting there five days per week. And yes, I said it was two hours away.
I remember during this time setting my old white, buzzer alarm clock for 4:00 in the morning and sitting, dazed, on the edge of the toilet seat with my eyes closed while my mom french braided my hair. On the days I wanted a french braid. Then I'd go back to my room, reset my alarm for a more normal hour, very carefully sleep so as not to mess up the braid, then get up again when my alarm went off to get my breakfast and make my own lunch, knowing my mom was almost at the office - me in Maryville and her in Kansas City.
This went on for quite some time because I didn't want to move. And my mom never made me. She just woke up day after day and drove hours and hours to make a living. It's just what she did.
Then one day my best friend Sara told me she was moving to Cowgill, Missouri. The next day I told my mom I was ready to move to Kansas City.
I remember my first day at Pleasant Lea Junior High. I was way out of my league. The young lady who showed me around - who happened to be cousins of one of my classmates in Maryville! - wore a starched white cotton top with a pale yellow peasant skirt. And matching pale yellow pumps. And yellow fashion earrings.
I wore a white romper with tri-color buttons on my shoulders that I'd sewn myself and who knows what on my feet.
Luckily, God had mercy on me that day. Or, at least, within three days He did. Because on my third day at my new school, I met Cherrie (pronounced like the little red fruit - "cherry"). Cherrie and I were inseparable best friends every day for the rest of our lives. Well, at least until we were juniors in high school. And then we did the unthinkable. We let a boy come between us. And then Cherrie moved away our senior year. But during freshman week at college, we found each other again. We also found our husbands. And through the years, we found a kid. Or two. Or eight.
This weekend, Cherrie and her family came and spent some time with us. I'm telling you. I am the luckiest girl in the world to have her as my friend.
Love you girl!