Things that happened in the past make you who you are, memories of past experiences are cloudy or clear depending on how they affected you, the loss of a friend or family member is always hard, but how clear is the memory of the first friend you ever lost.
I mentioned a girl in a post I wrote a couple of years ago, Connie was a close friend at the time, I only knew her for a short while but her friendship is one you remember.
We did fun things together, things like catching a ride on the side of a garbage truck rather than walk the few blocks home, gather pots of flowers to line the yard because they looked pretty, realized too late that we were fugitives from the law not because of the flower pots, and discuss notes in a bottle thrown into the sea, wondering if they are ever found and read.
Back then the garbage was collected into a truck with a big opening in the back, men scattered all directions twirling 55 gallon drums on their edge, rolling them along into peoples yards to dump the galvanized garbage cans, then onto the next yard, when the drums were filled they went back to the truck to empty the drums.
On the sides of these trucks were narrow platforms with handholds above them where some of the men rode, I remember one large black man who rode this truck, he would toss his barrel into the back of the truck, reach out his hand to us and yell, “Want a ride?” after lifting Connie, my Brother, and I onto the platform with him the truck would proceed down the alleyway.
The police incident where we “watched the police drive up and down the street searching the neighborhood from her front porch one afternoon, while we were avoiding the step mom only to find out that we were the ones being searched for since the step mom reported us missing.”
My brother and I had slipped off to Connie’s house to watch cartoons and play in her yard for a change, fugitives from the law, I was so embarrassed when we were treated as such, we had to ride in the back of a patrol car for the long one block ride home, Connie never gave us a hard time about this, because it had scared her just as bad as it did us.
Connie always talked about putting a note in a bottle to toss into the ocean, we lived nowhere near water so she would write a note and release it into the wind, the wind seemed to always blow and her notes took flight easily, most I feel ended up in the gutter of the street but you never know where the wind will take your words.
The garbage trucks no longer allow kids to catch a ride, the flower pots we had to take back because the lady across the alley convinced us they should stay where she had placed them in her own yard, no court records of our great escape ever came back to haunt us, and notes were never thrown into the sea.
Connie was killed when she stepped off the curb in front of an off duty ambulance, the driver of this ambulance had to care for her and transport her himself, since no other ambulances were available to come to her aid, this all happened a block from where we lived, she was seven years old and I just a few months over eight.
I ask myself how in the world can some ones memory stick with you this long, it has been a bit over forty five years since she was killed, and I still remember the fun we had that summer, I hope that at least one of her notes ended up in the hand of a person who smiled at the story written on note paper and released into the wind, a story from the eyes of a child.
Remember those you lost way back then and keep their memory alive, there are a lot of people who only touch you for a brief time but their memories last a lifetime, is there a friend you lost at a young age like this, one that keeps popping back into your head, or is it just me?
I find myself at her grave every time we go back to town, a girl who was my friend for nearly a year, back when we were just kids, the answer to why I do this is simple.
She was my friend.