The first friend in my life that I remember was Todd.  We lived in a working class neighborhood in Jacksonville, Florida.  It was the 1960’s.  Todd and I had to be around age four because it was before kindergarten and I was five in kindergarten.  It’s strange that Todd and I roamed the neighborhood alone as four year old’s.  I know we were at least that young–maybe younger.  Both of our mothers were stay-at-home moms.  In the mornings, my mother would come wake me and say, “Todd is here”.  I would go to the door and no one was there.  I could see Todd’s shoes showing at bottom of the door where he was hiding behind the door as it swung out.  He was playing a joke on me.  I’d always say, “I see you, Todd” and then revealing himself, laughing, Todd would ask,  “how did you know it was me”.  I thought, “it’s always you, Todd”.   But I would say, “I saw your shoes.”  I remember his tennis shoes as converse but that could be my mind playing tricks on me.  Sometimes I remember them as red and other times I remember them as black.  I’ve always had a fondness for red converse’s so maybe they were red.  I remember nothing bad about Todd.  I only have four memories of Todd, one of which is him hiding behind the door every morning.  The second memory is when we went to his garage together to eat Gravy Train dog food.  We both agreed we wanted to see what it tasted like–because the commercials made it look so good.  I still remember the commercials showing the bowl of dog food with water mixed with it to form a wonderful looking gravy.  I remember the hand with the spoon scooping up the gravy.  It looked delicious.  It did not taste delicious.  Todd and I ate it but we both agreed without speaking to never mention it again.  Even at that age, we both knew we should be embarrassed for having eaten dog food.  My third memory is the time we decided to just stick our feet in the water sprinkler in my front lawn.  It was an oscillating type water sprinkler that went down to the right, up, and down to the left.  It only covered two sides so it was easy to stand on one side and not get wet.  Little by little, we put more of our selves into the water.  First our foot, then our leg, and the next thing I know we are gleefully playing in the sprinkler completely soaked from head to toe.  After what seemed like a few seconds later, my mother is calling me in and his mother is calling him in from two houses down.  Mother put me in the bathtub, I was bathed, and then put into my pajamas.  It was day time so I never could understand why I was bathed and put into my pajamas.  I don’t remember getting punished or fussed at,  and don’t remember what, if anything, my mother actually said.  All I know is that I was caught and “in trouble” so maybe early bed time was the punishment.  My last memory of Todd is about me borrowing his huge, round tub of crayons.  These were an incredible assortment of colors—two layers in the canister.  When I returned his crayons, he and his family were not home so I set the canister in the middle of the concrete driveway so they would see it when they got home.  I found out later that because I set the canister in direct sunlight, in the summer, on a concrete driveway, all the crayons melted together.  What stood out to me the most was Todd telling me this in a way that minimized the loss and was 100% non-blaming.  He would not have told me I ruined his crayons at all if I had not asked him if he saw them when he returned home.  Todd was a good friend and a great person.  I don’t even remember his last name or what his face looked like.  I only remember how I felt with him–safe, loved, and free to be myself.



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