Sometimes I remember them like I knew them yesterday.
Sometimes I picture my five year old self almost as if I were watching a movie.
I am riding my chopper big wheel down the sidewalk with my little brother in tow. Or I’m sitting on the porch with said brother munching on popsicles my mom made out of applesauce. Or I am running though the front yard holding my Batman and Robin dolls, pausing every few steps to turn their capes in the proper direction after they have ridden up over their heads.
Joe, the boy across the street who was my age, was most notable for once showing me a crap his father left in the toilet. It was massive and disgustingly brown. Joe was eerily fascinated by it, taking about how his dad had eaten beans and tortillas earlier and turned it into poop.
There was Joe’s baby sister who liked to play with my stuffed animals. The only problem, she was not good at giving them back. My stuffed animals were precious to me so I figured out that I could get her give the one she had back to me if I offered to trade another one. I would pull mine back just as she handed me the other one and leave her empty handed.
Laurie was the older girl next door who had a heart for little kids. She would invite me over to her house to serve me peanut butter and honey sandwiches as we watched the Brady Bunch. The first time I saw Hawaii episode was in her living room.
Matt and Pat were the brothers down the street. Pat was younger than me and Matt was older. Pat was the troublemaker who made his older brother’s life a living nightmare. Of course, Matt might not have taken his brother’s shenanigans so hard if he wasn’t such an anxious kid. The slightest thing would set him off. If any of his toys were out of place, he would shriek until they were set right.
Chin was the Asian kid at my pre-school who parents made him tape his ears down. When I asked him why, he was too embarrassed to say so I did not press it. One time he invited me over to his house for a playdate. His parent’s house was amazing, like a mansion. His idea of a fun time was to dress up in his skeleton Halloween costume and chase me around his giant backyard.
Adam was the classmate with hippy parents who lived in a commune. It was an enormous old house with old furniture and artwork everywhere. A large tree in the backyard served as Adam’s secret spot. It was where he kept, among other things, his Snoopy Snow Cone machine. When I was there, someone in his family brought home a newly adopted gosling they named Honkers. They tried to feed me stewed lentils which Adam eagerly gobbled up. Realizing I would not partake of the hippy bounty, they reluctantly brought me to a deli where they bought me a tuna fish sandwich. I cautiously nibbled at it as I picked out the bits of celery and onion.
Brian was the older kid who endlessly teased me. My starkest memory of Brian included him taking me into his parent’s garage where they kept large bags of horrible smelling dried herbs. When I objected to the odor, he told me it was poison. Since I had breathed it in, I had only minutes left to live unless I did exactly what he told me to do. He then gave me elaborate instructions: pinch your nose, run around in circles ten times, jump up and down fifteen times, roll around on the floor. His obnoxious uncontrollable laughter was a clear indication that he had taken me for a ride.
Mikey was the weird kid who had a mulish sort of laugh and big teeth. He was a talker who bragged about his birthday party and a massive cake decorated with licorice ropes. He had a very active imagination, using his Lincoln logs to build a house in the middle of his room for the little people. When I tried to tell him little people did not exist, his mother literally shushed me. Instead he took me outside to search for small snails. I watched in disgusted as he peeled away their shells to reveal the slime they were underneath.
By the time I was six years old, we would be in another city. I would be in another school making new friends.
The memory of my first friends, however, would be impossible to shake.