I had attended Fontana Junior High only 3 days when Becke approached me. Thinner and even shorter than me, which I didn't believe possible, this bouncy, high-spirited blond barks at me.
I obediently approached. I had decided to put out a tough exterior at this school so I didn't get bullied. It's so hard to start anywhere new when you're a teen. But I snapped to attention and obeyed her command.
"Why do you wear heels every day? I'm Becke. This is Laurie and Lori. We all wear Vans, so don't wear heels anymore. You need to get Vans. You can be our friend and have lunch with us from now on. Understand?"
"Yes. I wear heels because that's all I have. But I'll tell my Mom I need Vans. And I'll have lunch with you everyday."
Becke and I were friends from then on. She knew my deepest, darkest secrets until our Senior year of high school, when life interrupted and we parted ways. Many years later we reunited and in the last few years, have begun spending more and more time together.
A few weeks ago we were in her car, laughing like teenagers, on the way to our 30th High School Reunion.
"When I'm with you it's like time never passed. How can it be this way? How can anything feel so good? You get me! You always did. . ." I muttered.
Becke laughed and agreed. Still the vivacious blond with more personality than body, Becke knows me the way no one else ever could. Having spent more time together lately, she's subtly expressed a desire to ride her own motorcycle. Being a passenger on her husband's Harley for quite some time now has been fun for her, but once she saw my V*Star Gracie and followed our Road Pickle, something changed.
"You are too infectious lady! I've decided to take riding lessons. You make it look like so much fun! Hell, I have already picked out the bike I want!"
Overwhelmed with emotion, I had a hard time dealing with my ambivalence. Terribly flattered and incredibly humbled, I still found that I wanted to caution her against riding to protect her, as I had protected her in school.
"What if she gets hurt. It would be all my fault. . ." I pondered.
I realize that each of us take on that challenge and we are only accountable to ourselves. I had told Highway many times that I choose to ride and if I get hurt, that's my choice. But knowing I have inspired someone to do something risky suddenly brought into focus how much I still wanted to protect my dear friend, and how Highway may feel the same way from time to time.
"We should take a trip next year together! A Girl's Trip! You and me! And we can go try a nudist resort! I've always wanted to do that! That way we'll have so much less to pack and carry!" I suggested.
Teenager giggles ensued, as usual with the two of us.
I can see it now. The two of us, riding the backroads together all day, giggling the nights away poolside or around a crowded bar with strangers. It all sounds like something we would have dreamed of in school. Only now, we can make our dreams realities.
I feel like my life has come full circle in so many ways. Becke was just what I needed at 14; she brought me so much happiness and was the kind of friend everyone wants. I'm so grateful to be able to inspire her to grow and find her own brand of happiness all these years later.