My First Friend

The Prompts: Tell us about your first friend. And describe an outfit that makes you feel good. (It can be from any period of your life.) Double points if you post a picture of yourself in the outfit.

These two prompt are interconnected for me.

My first friend was Amy Koempel. She was 9 months older than me and lived up the street in our little neighborhood, with her parents and her younger sister Lorie as well as two poodles.  To be precise, Amy is the first friend that I remember. This was the early 1970’s so no such thing as play dates – the little kids stuck around their moms and mingled when they mingled (card club, taking a walk, etc.)

I remember “meeting” Amy in kindergarten – I started early and was only 4 years old. Amy had a best friend, Julie Becze, whom I also consider a long time friend.  There were other girls in our neighborhood, but we were somewhat isolated by how far our parents let us walk at the tender age of 6 or 7 plus the emerging social issues of divorce and being shipped to dad’s house for partial custody, mom’s working and grandma’s watching the kids, and a lot of turnover.

Amy had dark hair, big glasses and while we didn’t resemble one another, we shared a build and were often mistaken for siblings as young children. She loved horses – LOVED horses – and had an extensive collection of matchbox cars that her mother painted pink and purple. We both had pools. We  both didn’t like school albeit for different reasons. Amy and her mother read books together which I envied (I read books on my own which was almost as good.).

We drifted apart in high school, still friends and spent time together via band (I was in the band, she was in the color guard), but not close. After high school, I moved to Virginia and Amy eventually relocated to Upstate New York, married and had her two children. We reconnected years later and Facebook gave us a chance to really reconnect. Amy traveled to Pgh for our 20th class reunion and stayed with us.

I admire the woman Amy has grown to be – her values, her passion and her self-reliance. She has a tremendous sense of humor and loves to occasionally post some “flashback” photos.

Like this one646_42350993142_6464_n

This photo was taken in Amy’s basement in January 1976 for her birthday party. I am on the right in the blue plaid dress with the red bow. This was before I had to wear glasses or perhaps before I had to wear them everywhere – I was only five. But I remember that dress – Winnie the Poor is embroidered somewhere on the hem and I wore stockings and some knock-off Mary Janes. I felt like a princess. I wanted to wear the dress all of the time. But the mid-1970’s were filled with harsh weather so I was forced to wear corduroy pants and ugly sweaters.

My brother Jimmy is at the far end of the table. Amy the dark-haired girl standing. Her little sister Lorie is the grinning blond next to me.

I don’t remember this party. I’m sure my Mum is somewhere in the room because she would have walked us up the street and stayed for a cup of instant coffee. And I only recognize a handful of the kids – I can’t remember if Amy had cousins or such.

Note that there is a blond girl in a red outfit next to Amy – her name was Sherri Pierce. She  lives a few houses away from my family and was one grade ahead of me. I don’t remember when I “met” her, but I was informed that her older sisters babysat for us so it is probable that I met Sherri first. I just don’t remember and neither does anyone else. At some point, we were a giant jumble of kids roaming the neighborhood playing Kick the Can, drinking knock-off kool-aid and and listening to whose Mom was yelling for them. Allegiances shifted as we aged, especially when we were old enough to actually leave the neighborhood unsupervised.

My ties to Amy are very grounded in the here and now. I’m Facebook friends with Sherri, Billy, Darlene and more (not all of the old neighbors are lesbian-friendly) but I’m actual friends with Amy.

 

  • Theresa Ledford

    Wow! I love that Facebook has let you all find each other again. I found my half brother on there and several friends. And you look adorable in the dress! My favorite dress as a kid was a purple flowery one my mom made me. I used to twirl around in it and watch the skirt flare out! I felt like a princess!

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