000_6910RetouchA friend I’ve known since I was a baby sent me birthday present in the mail. It’s a ‘Flashlight Friend.’ He’s a little stuffed dog with a button near his heart. At night when you’re scared, you push him and he lights up.

While examining this gift my husband remarked: “This is such a strange thing for one 41 year old woman to send another 41 year old woman.”

I began telling him about our childhood adventures and he started to understand.

Like the time we tied fishing line around the head of a dragonfly and tried to ‘fly him’ like a kite (unfortunately it didn’t work).

And I’ll never forget that fateful morning. It was five degrees Fahrenheit and there we stood with our snowsuits on peering at the row of metal mailboxes at the end of her driveway.

“Watch this,” said Sarah. And she stuck out her tongue and attached it to the metal surface. Her unintelligible screams could be heard for at least a mile as we tried to figure out how to remove it without skin coming off.

If you’re wondering: “Was it like the scene in the movie ‘A Christmas Story’ when Ralphie’s friend gets his tongue stuck on the flagpole?”

Yes, it was exactly like that! Except I promise I didn’t ‘double dog dare’ her (link below).

Cranberries grow wild in Alaska and one day we plucked some and shoved them up our noses. We squeezed our nostrils together with our fingers so the red juice oozed down our faces; then dashed home and told my mom we had bloody noses. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stop laughing so she didn’t believe us.

We made a trip to the store specifically to buy straws so we could drink from a mud puddle after the snow melted.

While on a camping trip in Prince Williams Sound we rode on the bow of my dad’s boat; flying full throttle and singing John Denver songs at the top of our lungs (of course we made up our own words). I don’t know what got into my dad that day, but he never let us do that again!

One night we jumped up and down on her bed in the dark for hours listening to “Gloria” by Laura Branigan. It was so loud her mother made us turn it down.

We watched ‘The Exorcist’ for the first time together and stayed up all night, completely freaked out. Luckily we had each other so we didn’t need a ‘Flashlight Friend.’

Sometimes my dog would follow me to her house; keeping her distance so I wouldn’t know she was on my tail. Out of nowhere she would appear and hunt down Sarah’s cat. We’d holler and cry trying to stop the inevitable. Then, after more weeping and wailing she would forgive me for my dog’s behavior and get a new cat.

We felt the sting of BB’s and the whip of fireweed on our skin while being chased through the woods by my older brother and his friends.

And yes, we walked uphill to school in the snow (except it was only about 2 miles and we did have shoes on….. barely).

To this day we can still break out in uncontrollable laughter even after not seeing each other for years.

When I feel old, tired, cranky, and useless: memories like these put a smile on my face (except for the cats).

I hope we don’t let cell phones, video games, and the Internet rob our kids of their childhood.

And I hope everyone has a friend like this.

Jodie Stevens

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