Friday, April 11, 2014


In the summer of 1986 we had an almost-four-year-old son, an almost-six-year-old foster daughter, and a four-month-old son who'd been a preemie (only weighed 8 pounds when he came to us) and wore a heart monitor which apparently was defective because it went off several times in the middle of the night for no reason. It was a challenging summer, to say the least.

My husband saw how frazzled I was and encouraged me to find something "grown up" to do, just for me, and he would watch the kids. So I signed up for a continuing education creative writing class at Baylor University which met once a week on Thursday evenings.

The first night of class, the instructor had each of us tell the class why we were there and what we liked to write. There were about ten of us, mostly older people, except for one young woman who appeared to be about my age (I was 28 and she was 25). She boldly stood up, said her name was Pamela, and admitted in front of all these strangers that she loved Lost in Space as a child and wanted to write fantasy and science fiction.

That's when I first decided she and I could be friends! I liked Lost in Space too, but I wouldn't have admitted it to strangers. Her spunk drew me in, and her brilliant writing captivated my imagination. Soon we were getting together outside of class to share more of our writing. Not only was she a wonderful writer, she could always see what I meant to write and had great editing skills. Pamela and I were truly "kindred spirits."

About two years later Pamela married, and she and her husband moved about two hours away. It wasn't far, but it was just far enough that we couldn't get together very often. We wrote letters occasionally, and occasionally sent pages or chapters back and forth, but it wasn't working very well.

Then she invited me to come for the weekend, and we began a yearly ritual that has lasted for more than 25 years. Once a year we spend 2-3 days eating Chinese food, visiting every Half Price Books store we can find, walking and laughing and watching crazy TV shows (when we're at her house, since we don't have TV), and of course, reading and commenting on one another's writing. Sometimes we have a LOT to read if we've been prolific over the previous year, but we always manage to get it in, even if we have to stay up all most of the night.

We have had this annual slumber party/writer's fun weekend at her house much more often than she has come here for the simple reason that I have a good sense of direction and she doesn't. The first time she visited our first house across town, I had told her I'd leave the door unlocked in case she arrived before I got home from a class I was teaching. (We live in a small town that used to be safe enough to leave doors unlocked.) When I came home, she met me at the door, grinning sheepishly.

"What?" I asked, since I could tell something was up.

"It's a good thing you have trusting neighbors," she said.

She had read the directions backwards and went inside the house on the other corner, which was also unlocked. After sitting down to wait for me, she started noticing that there was nothing familiar about the place and realized she was in the wrong house! We laughed about that for a long time.

Everyone should have a BFF, but no one could ever have a treasure like Pamela.
We didn't even let babies stop us from getting together (hers is the smallest one).

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