It all started with marshmallows. There was a distinct hierarchy on the bus and all middle schoolers were expected to comply: sixth graders were the peons â€“ they sat at the front of the bus, eighth graders were high and mighty â€“ they ruled the back with all the maturity of 13 year-old. Seventh graders and other misfits filled out the remaining seats. (Funny that now that Iâ€™ve grown older and wiser, the back of the bus makes me queasy.)
On this particular day the sixth grade scrubs and ruling eight graders were engaged in a battle to the death â€“ or at least to the grossest â€“ they were spitting chewed up marshmallows back and forth. Those of us in the middle had hunkered down, slouched as far down as we could possibly go sitting three to a seat in the luxury confines of a Laidlaw school bus.
Dalia was sitting next to me, hoping to avoid the pre-masticated gelatinous airborne spittle. (It was like a live pre-Internet era school kid game of Angry Birds.) The bus driver didnâ€™t even appear to notice, and we bonded over the barbarics of tweens.
Through the years we grew closer, discussing our future via a complex system of alphabetically coded boys. Boys A-D. Regardless of who happened to be our crush du jour, we would wax poetic about how we would someday be successful with happy families of our own. We convinced my father to drive us to school so we could avoid the morning bus ride; we would spend the 20-minute drive celebrating our status as middle school misfits.
We were only classmates for that year of the marshmallow, but friendship lasted. Ups and downs, laughter and tears our lives twisted and turned around the globe. While I was busy with bridesmaid duties at her wedding, Jon was spending the afternoon with my parents â€“ asking permission to ask my hand in marriage. Two years later, she stood up for me at our wedding.
Three years ago, the next generation kicked into high gear when her adorable daughter Naomi arrived. They came to visit us merely weeks after the muppets arrived home. And although weâ€™re not there to visit right now, I am so happy to welcome my friendâ€™s little girl to the world: Tova Eliana.
Two little girls and two little boys. Letâ€™s remember to tell them itâ€™s impolite to spit marshmallows.