I like to tease my husband about our kids being Rednecks at heart. (Please don’t take offense if you or someone you love is, in fact, an actual Redneck). He grew up in ‘The Valley’ (yep, that Valley – like, oh my god) But, I grew up in Bakersfield….way back when Bakersfield was a real live Redneck haven. So, I do everything I can to instill a little Redneck into our kids…. just to mess with him a bit. But, I think he secretly likes it. I may have even taught my kids all the words to ‘It’s Alright to be a Redneck’ and ‘Mommas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys’… I can’t help myself.

As much as I found to fuss about when I was growing up there – living in zillion degree weather, having ‘nothing to do’, the hideous Country music, etc. Now, I look back and see a really wonderful childhood. The little neighborhood I grew up in was made up of working class families. All of us kids walked to school, meeting up with our classmates along the way. Our principal was loved & respected. For the most part, the kids in my Kindergarten class picture were the same kids I graduated High School with.

We spent many, many hours ‘playing’ around my neighborhood. We rode our skateboards or bikes all over the place. We were allowed to walk to the 7-11 several blocks away & buy candy and Slurpees on our own. We swam all summer, slept over at each others homes. Tight and enduring friendships were made. We grew up together in that little neighborhood.

One of my first friends was Kristi. We met in Kindergarten. She lived on the other side of the block from me & there was an alley that connected the two sides of the block. I’m surprised we didn’t wear the concrete through in that alley, walking back & forth between our two homes. And, I am suprised our neighbors put up with our little kid nonsense that I’m sure we were up to most of the time. Yes, we are friends to this day. We are going on 39 years of friendship!

These days, I have an endearing fondness in my heart for that Country music I hated so much back then. I’d give my right arm to have that feeling of ‘having nothing to do’. The heat….uh, not wishing I had that back. But the rest of it… the sweet, close knit neighborhood, the simplicity, ahhhh I miss it!

This weekend, my friend Kristi will be coming to visit. I can count on a few things: 1. We’ll talk a thousand miles an hour – for she is the only person I know who talks faster than me – & I will get every word of it. 2. It will feel like we’ve just picked up from where we left. It matters not that I haven’t seen her in wayyyy too long. When you know each other that well, you just pick up again. 3. We’ll tell the already re-told stories that we love so much. Hopefully my kids won’t hear the ones that are too damning. But the barfing in the camper story is really funny. Plus anything that has to do with ‘prank phone calls’ still sends us both into fits of hysterical laughter. 4. There will be LOTS of giggling. 5. I will be reminded of how totally blessed I am to have such a wonderful, amazing, sweet friend. She knows all the icky stuff about me (she was probably there for most of it).  Plus, all the good stuff has been shared. Even from hundreds of miles apart, we’ve rejoiced each other’s first born … and each baby afterward. We’ve talked (or more recently ‘typed or texted’) each other through so many difficult cruddy parts in life. And, in the background of my mind has always been the country music playing in the kitchen at Kristi’s house & her mom’s iced tea, the re-telling of the totally funny stories, and the history of all those walks through that hot, Bakersfield alley in that totally Redneck neighborhood that served as the meeting spot, where our lives connected & our friendship flourished.

Do you remember your best friend from your childhood? Are you in touch still? What a wonderful and amazingly rich thing to have!

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