Sometime during what I think was our seventh year of primary school, a pretty, bright blonde girl in my class decided to suddenly change her mind about me.
Mind you, she did that despite the fact we’d been in the same class for two years already and had been bitter rivals up until that point, caught up in that crazy race for first place among a bunch of clueless teenagers, in a time when that race seemed to be the most important thing in the whole universe.
She did it although her mother – much just like my own – was encouraging this blind competition based on grades and averages, pushing and pushing us to be the best in ways that would never be useful to anyone.
She did it when she was already becoming stunningly beautiful – I watched her become more and more so through the years, with her amazing blonde hair that turns as bright as daylight in the summertime and those chameleon eyes, you know the kind, eyes that mirror colors and feelings, which she now passed on to her baby girl, my goddaughter. Other pretty girls our age would have done anything but become friends with „that” chubby plain girl with thick-lensed glasses. Such a relationship could ruin you, drag you down to the gutters, among losers and dorks, but she chose the friendship over the popularity.
She did it and stuck to her guns, though I was a difficult teen and sort of a „beginner” friend, not really knowing what I was doing. Having been hurt by others, I was sometimes defensive and aggressive for no reason, acted superior and was egotistic, and at the same time so insecure, in constant need of a perk-up.
Did she see something in me, beyond that which I was able to recognize myself? Did she sense the potential of a 20 year old friendship between us, like the spark of static electricity between objects which seem to have nothing in common? Was she just lonely herself and decided to give the unlikely option a try?
Who knows. But to me, her friendship was like a lifeboat. A lifeboat filled with gifts and memories waiting to happen.
Much time has passed since then, and I learned so many things, while many others still wait to be learnt. One of the deepest, most important lessons I’ve found so far, one that is so hard to practice, even when you understand it, is this: never, ever put people in a box and forget them there. Some people will bug the living daylights out of you during your first encounter. Some will strike you as pretentious know-it-alls, or not so interesting as people make them out to be, or simply unkind. But it might just be the circumstances, or the timing, or it might just be you, so give them a chance to change your mind.
I’ve changed my mind about so many things in life: about my parents, about writers, about careers, about friends and so-called-friends and about myself. Sometimes it took me years to be able to see beyond my stubbornness, and for some things I needed to grow up in many ways, so I could finally to overcome my blindness.
But this girl I’ve just told you about – this amazing woman I’ve been calling my friend for almost 20 years now, whose birthday happens to be today – she was doing it like a pro since she was 13.
Simo, here’s to you!
This is an attempt to revive the series “Memory of the day” which I started in 2011. On 15.01.2011, on Simona’s birthday, I wrote this short memory about the summer holidays we spent at my grandparents’ house.