Friday, November 13, 2015

A Tag Tuesday prompt of childhood memories and a best friend

I've made a commitment lately to participate in the Tag Tuesday blog, where we have a weekly theme and create and post a tag.  This week's theme was "Minibeasts" -- aka, bugs.  It was a challenge.  I personally am not a real bug person.  I admit that while I admire bees and such, I don't particularly care for them, nor do they inspire me to want to make art -- not even butterflies.  So after a lot of thought, I ended up making this tag based upon a favorite book, Charlotte's Web by E.B. White.
Charlotte, you'll remember, was a spider who befriended a small pig named Wilbur and saved his life with some clever web-writing.  Now, I must tell you, of all the beasties in the whole beastie realm, spiders are my least favorite.  I am actually very afraid of them, and have been all my life.  I well remember hearing about Charlotte's Web when I was in first or second grade and being sure I wouldn't care for it -- being about a spider and all.  But E.B. White had a way with words, and he spun a yarn so compelling that I doubt there's a child in my generation who didn't admire Charlotte and shed some tears over the story.
The base of my tag is a 1930's report card, with hand written grades.  Note that the student had earned an A+ in literature -- a girl after my own heart.  I added a snowy farm scene, and the tag is topped with a small piece of "hardware" that made me think of an old barn.
As I was creating this tag my heart and mind traveled back 45 years or so and I remembered a dear friend I had when I was a little girl; her name was Amanda.  I realize now that Amanda was an old soul in a little girl's body.  She was very creative and fun-loving, and always had something up her sleeve.  She was in fact the ring leader in all my lower primary school antics.  On the first day of school in first grade she walked right up to me and said, Hi, I'm Amanda.  Do you want to be friends? I think it was one of the happiest moments of my life -- I felt so accepted!  She became my best friend, and when she and her family moved away in 4th grade it was the worst thing that had ever happened to me in my young life.
When I was a child, I was very shy.  Amanda wasn't.  In fact, she was quite bold and did not suffer from a lack of self-esteem.  She brought me out of my shell.  My favorite memory of Amanda is how we'd meet before class and she'd give me a little gift -- a homemade book.  A tiny little book, about 1-1/2" with 10 or 12 pages, that told a story, complete with crayoned pictures.  One that I particularly remember was Caterpillars on Parade.  We were CRAZY about fuzzy caterpillars -- ha!  Look at that buried memory -- a beastie I actually like!  

Each page in Amanda's little book was a colorful caterpillar with a description and a name.  I was so in love with my tiny book gift that I immediately went home and made one for her, which I brought to her the next day.  We exchanged books like that for a few weeks -- and I kept those little books until I was in my 30's.  By then they were well-loved and thumbed through, dog-eared and smeared: cherished.
Another special memory of Amanda is a game she made up when we were in 3rd grade or so.  I don't remember if the game had a name, but it consisted of a series of clues, or notes, hidden in the pages of books at our school's little library.  Amanda gave me the first clue, and then I had to find the next one and the next by solving the clues hidden all over the library in the unlikeliest books you can imagine!  I am quite struck now by how detail-oriented and creative Amanda must have been, to come up with these plans.  And it wasn't just literary games we played -- we also had a stuffed animal and doll tea party one lunch period, which required many days of planning and a forbidden trip Off Campus into the fields surrounding our school, and many more adventures.
Every summer Amanda and her family took a vacation, while my family never did.  I remember waiting by the mailbox for the postcards she'd send, colorful photos with vivid descriptions of their travels.  Then one summer, she went away and didn't come back.  At first we were pen pals, but soon she was writing to me about cheerleading, and boy-girl dances at her new school in another state, and after a while the letters stopped.  I'm sure we both outgrew writing them, but I'm also sure it took me longer to get there.
What does any of this have to do with Charlotte's Web, you may be wondering.  Just this: Charlotte the spider was very much like Amanda.  She was somehow older, or at least more mature than I was, and certainly wiser, and she always had the best ideas.  She schemed and then made the schemes happen.  She knew words I didn't, and used them, and had been known to brag quite a bit.  She was fearless.  Most of all, she was an important and very faithful friend to me, who went away. Like Wilbur, I was sure I wouldn't be able to live without Amanda, but of course I did.
Amanda and I got back in touch when we were in our 20's.  By then she'd married and had four children!  I'm sure she was a fabulous mother.  When my son was born, we made plans to get together and we made that happen, too, twice!  Being with her was like being with family, and her children were amazing and reminded me of her as a child!  It was such a special gift.  I know if we lived near each other, Amanda would be a part of my "tribe" of artists and writers.
Amanda holding my son Ben, with her husband
We have lost touch again for some years now but I intend to re-discover her, someday.  She has always been one of the most important people in my life.  I'm thankful for the Tag Tuesday blog, the tag prompt, and the journey of remembering and contemplating that it took me on this week!


Lorraine said...

What lovely memories. And the little books are so precious. I love your tag. Not liking spiders myself I give you great kudos for going that way. Charlotte was special and so is Amanda and I hope you get to reconnect soon.

Kathy said...

Laurie, this is a beautiful post and loved reading it. Thank you for sharing those wonderful memories!

Linda said...

Great memories & moments shared. It's funny, but sometimes it's not the actual objects themselves that are so wonderful (this book is an exception) but the memories they conjure up. A door is opened and we can either look through, or step right in, but no matter what we do ~ those memories are with us throughout our lives. Thanks for sharing Laurie.

Marrianna said...

Beautiful memories in this post. Thank you for sharing them. Your tag is wonderful. I went to the TAG TUESDAY blog and looked at the other postings. It looks like a fun object.

Take care,