When I was in junior high my best friend moved from our little town in the Texas Pandhandle to a little town in Kansas. Her grandma lived down the street from my aunt though and so she came back often. And sometimes, in the summer, our moms would agree to meet halfway in Guymon, OK, and let me go back to Kansas and stay the week with my friend and then on Friday night we would all head back to Dumas, where they would drop me at home and spend the weekend with family.
My friend, Tiffany, lived out in the country, outside of the small town in Kansas. Because of this she was able to get a hardship driver's license before she turned 16 so that she could get herself and her brother to and from school, etc. This was a huge deal in our eyes.
The summer that we were 15 and I had only a Learner's permit and she had a hardship license I visited her. There was one day when her parents were at work and her brother at home that we had her mom's car for some reason. Perhaps, we agreed to run errands for her mother. I don't remember.
Well, Tiffany let me drive. Of course, she wasn't supposed to do this. But I was a cautious driver, and weren't taking any risks. We were headed back to her house on the small two-lane highway out in the country with me driving and suddenly realized that her dad was heading towards us in his truck.
We panicked. Tiffany got down in the floor board as best she could. I sat up tall, put the visor down and looked straight ahead as our vehicles passed by each other. We were sure we were busted, laughing and laughing at what had happened.
We waited for it. Dinner was torture. We were positive we had been found out.
Then, her dad said he had seen her mom heading home and she hadn't waved at him or even seen him. Her mother replied back that it hadn't been her. He was absolutely certain it was. They mildly argued back and forth, while Tiffany and I sat there mute, waiting for them to accuse us.
But he had seen only one person in the car and it was 1990…we all had poofy, spiral perms so the hair looked the same. Somehow, we got away with it. We excused ourselves from the table and went off to quietly revel in our good fortune.
Tiffany was my first real friend in Dumas, after moving there the week school was starting. We were in sixth grade then. It wasn't until late in the year that we bonded. We were working on a letter writing project and had been paired up to proof each other's letters. We discovered we were both writing to relatives in Cedar Hill, TX. And that was it; we became friends over this funny coincidence.
I was so shy back then, lacking confidence to speak up and talk to anyone I didn't know well. I was plain and chubby.
But Tiffany wasn't. She always exuded confidence and spoke to anyone and everyone about anything and everything with genuine interest and self-assurance. And she was pretty and slender.
I got prettier and thinner and more confident with time, but I always admired her confidence and courage and determination. She made me bolder too.
When she turned 18 in November of our senior year, she eloped and married the twenty-something man she had been quietly dating. She moved to Amarillo, TX, from her small town in Kansas and enrolled herself in high school to finish her senior year and got a job and took charge of running her little household.
I wasn't surprised when she called to tell me she had just gotten married. Her parents had forbidden her from dating this guy in his twenties. So, she decided that once she was 18 she'd just marry him and move out. Once again, she was confident in her actions.
I lost track of her after college, but then found her on Facebook a few years ago. She's still pretty and still exuding that confident, brave spirit.
Isn't it funny how people cross our paths, maybe even becoming our dearest friends for a time, but then we all move on and yet those people continue to cross our minds over the years.
I think of Tiffany when I hear a Bon Jovi song and associate her with Young Guns…it was the first Rated R movie we snuck in to see from the PG rated movie we paid to go to the night of my surprise birthday party…we were scared to death we'd get thrown out, but we didn't and from time to time I think about the time we spent together over the years and the time we fooled her parents about who was driving the car on that summer afternoon in 1990. And I still admire her for her confidence and guts.
There are no accidental meetings and path crossings in life. There is always a purpose whether we understand it right away or not. I do believe that. All of the people that come and go and stick around all matter. They're all brush strokes, filling in the masterpieces of our lives. Over and out…