Soon after we moved to that little and calm street, my mom received a visit from one of its longtime residents, a nice and respectful lady, mother of a ten-year-old girl that I had started to hang out with. The lady was at least a decade senior than my mom and it was her appreciation for the rules and traditions that made her do something rather unusual for an urbanite from a big city like Rio de Janeiro: she knocked on our door to introduce herself and to give us a warm welcome to the neighborhood. After all the pleasantries, though, the real motive of her visit emerged. She was there to ask my mom in the most tactful, most polite way, to forbid me to befriend her daughter.
Not that I was a bad influence, you see. I was just a girl who liked to play with friends in the street, our favorite playground. The problem was the other girl. She was not exactly an angel, just a spoiled, hot-tempered brat, the equivalent today of “strong-willed child”. Exactly, the politically correct equivalent for “little bitch”. Her parents knew that; however, they had a lid on it… until I arrived. Pseudo-paradise had its days counted. Suddenly I became a threat for that then-functional household and, apparently, no stricted Spaniard father and conservative, old-school mother could handle that. And they were right.
Sincerely, I didn’t even think we would have become friends. When you live in the city the fun is playing in the streets with other kids (at least at that time) so it was what I did with my brother. One day this girl came riding this red bicycle and when I asked her if I could have a turn, she simply said no. All right, then. She was always playing with some little kids way younger than her. I thought it was weird but didn’t give a second thought. Whatever. I went back minding my own beeswax, as her little friends would have said.
One day she approached us alone, bikeless, no first-graders clinging around. Her bike had been stolen. She had left it unattended when she crossed the street to ask her father for some cash. She got the money but she lost the bike. Well, well, well… I swear, I never cursed her but I couldn’t help savoring that little revenge from life.
Little did I know that it was all part of the Universe’s plan. It was all set. With the freaking bike out of the way, her snotty and selfish days were gone. She was funny and up for anything. It was a match made in heaven: we became inseparable. Soon her rigid curfew went to the drain as her father got tired of being the center of the frightful spectacle of calling her from the fifth floor window, then going downstairs and having a public altercation with her. With locks in our dial-phones, the solution was to call each other from our windows, terrorizing the neighbors with our yelling. The building that separated us was not an obstacle… After all, we didn’t need to see each other, only hear the calling, which was pitch perfect, courtesy of the front buildings’ acoustic.
We went to different schools but met every morning to sleepwalk together until splitting ways. Matching outfits was also one of our “great” ideas. Can you imagine how thrilled we felt after finding out that both owned a blue Adidas tracksuit and a white t-shirt featuring the logo of a bank? It was imperative to parade our sense of style through town!
Ah, and the love for comic books? Each of us had tons of them to share, exchange and laugh together… That’s how we became BFFs or nail-and-flesh, as we say in Brazil. When her sweet and well-meaning mother came to see mine in an attempt to save her daughter from “perdition”, it was already too late. Fortunately my mom never took the neighbor’s request in the wrong way. She gave me a short lecture about the situation but that was about it.
This is how we grew up together: entwined in each other’s life. The love and friendship of those little girls survived everything that came in their way, the harder one being the distance. We are family by choice and this is the best kind. I love my soul-sister!