Archive for November 7th, 2009
I started fourth grade in a new school, not knowing what to expect. This transition wasn’t as awful as I had imagined, but it was still pretty scary not knowing anyone and leaving my little elementary social structure I had already built at my old school. I mean, I knew all the unwritten rules of the swingset and who was impossible to beat at tetherball. All things considered, what I didn’t realize at the time is that this move would profoundly change my life and now I could not imagine how things would be different.
Of course kids are resiliant and adapt to change fairly quickly. In a lot of cases it just takes one little link to make that jump into what ends up being the rest of your life. Who would have thought that in this case it would be a scented Tootsie Roll eraser?
In my new classroom I remember walking up to the pencil sharpener and talking to some kids waiting in line… for some reason I also remember hearing someone say “Oh there’s that Cathy at the pencil sharpener.” While things were going ok, getting a new name on the first day wasn’t a good sign. Back at my desk, all the kids were talking to each other — they obviously had been friends for a while and I started to feel a little out of place. I’m not quite sure how it happened, but I distinctly remember this girl named Cheryl sitting across from me, telling this other kid Dan to sniff her Tootsie Roll eraser. And then it happened, “Do you want to smell my Tootsie Roll eraser?” she asked. We laugh a lot about this now, but this was huge at the time, and well, looking back, it still is. I didn’t realize it but this epitomized the kind of person Cheryl is and the kind of friend she would be to me ever since that day. If she has a scented Tootsie Roll eraser, she’ll let you sniff it. If she has something you need, she’ll share it. If you need a kind word, someone to sit with at lunch, want to take a road trip to visit a ginormous peach or a friend to talk to on the phone when times are hard — Cheryl’s your gal.
It’s not often you’re blessed with a friend who is a constant in your life, someone who’s there for the fun stuff (and there has been a lot of fun stuff) and the not-so-fun stuff. Over time, I’ve come to appreciate how special (and rare) it is to have a lifelong friend who’s watched you grow and still likes you anyway. Cheryl has been a true friend and one of the most consisten people in my life over the years. She’s the nicest, most sincere person I know and I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t feel the same way about her. For most people that could come off as boring, but the great thing about Cheryl is that she’s one of the wackiest and most fun people I know, too.
From Sugar Creek Snacks to Boca Loca Beads, from Mrs. Jackson’s class to the Drama Club, from creating our own dance routine to “In My House” to dancing at each others’ weddings, some of my best memories have been with Cheryl. We went to the skating rink together, the pool together, took summer classes at ISU, moved to California (and back), and through it all, I think we just keep getting better. From boy troubles back then to kid anxieties now, Cheryl’s always been a wonderful source of advice, support and laughs.
Today is Cheryl’s birthday and while I wish I could be there to celebrate (and take her out for a drink at the Thirty-Six), perhaps the next best thing is to pay tribute to her, sing her praises and possibly embarrass her with old pictures from high school. She’s been there through it all, one of the most consistent and reliable friends I’ve ever had and I can only hope we can continue the tradition for many, many years to come. Cheryl, you truly are the best and one of my all-time favorite people. Thank you for being you, for being awesome and for all the great times in my life that wouldn’t have been the same without you. Happy Birthday, Cheryl — we love ya.