We met for the first time at the bus stop. It was the Fall of seventh grade and there she magically appeared one morning. Her jeans were rolled, her collar was turned up, but she was bold enough to be wearing blue eyeliner and mascara. I was intrigued. She was edgy. She taught me how to steam open a report card envelope, bleach and razor up an old pair of Levi's, apply makeup and remove it before I went back home. She perfected the art of a side french braid to copy cat her brave hair cut, which was buzzed off on the left side and long on the right. She listened to punk rock on cassette tape. She had traveled all over the country and just moved to town from the West. She was home alone quite frequently and that fact alone made her place more appealing to hang out than mine.
We often could be found exploring our limited suburban neighborhood on foot together. She gave me a new found sense of freedom. There was a Chinese Restaurant merely a block away that I had driven by countless times my entire life, but never stepped foot in. She's the one that coaxed me there for the very first time. I still remember the red painted dragons on the soda glass and cracking open my first fortune cookie. We shared lo mein and pork fried rice. I gave her Pizza Friday and the nuances of life in a loud Italian American family. I gave her stability and a place to always turn to. I offered her a way to feel like a local in yet another new school, new town, new state. We became fast friends that year. We had a good run, before her father picked up and moved her to a High School out of district.
Sometimes I realize how people walk into our lives at just the right time and have the ability to open a world of discovery. She will always be remembered as a gem with perfect timing.