kindred spirits

It's always been tough for me to make friends - at least the really good kind, the kind you can call up in tears who will listen and encourage, the kind you can be completely silly with, the kind you can really talk to about hopes and dreams and life. I'm not sure if I have such a hard time because of how much I've moved over the years, if I'm too selective about the people I allow to get close, or if it's just something instinctual in me that maintains that reserve so much. Every once in a while, though, someone comes along and it seems like I've known them forever... something in me recognizes something in them, and we're immediately connected. These special people stay in my life no matter how far away I move, or how often we talk - they are each such a gift.

When I was ten, it was my friend Christina. She was also the oldest of a homeschooling family, and she, I and our brothers used to play very involved games of capture the flag or pioneers. We met on an historic tour where the costumed guide made a speech about her 18-inch waist (which she clearly didn't have), and Christina and I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to suck in our own little stomachs and check our measurements with my mom's measuring tape. She and I wrote plays and songs together, crafted dolls, rode horses, drew plans for our dream houses and wrote out lists of what we would name all our children. Christina always seemed so comfortable with who she was, so at ease in her own skin and with her life that I felt free to also be myself.

In high school it was Katie - we sat next to each other in gym class that first day of freshman year, and all day no one could remember who was Katie and who was Kristin. After that, we were inseparable. We invented private names for people around us, wrote notes in our own code, whispered secrets between classes and sang a duet in the talent show. Katie was creative, talented and smart, and made it okay for me to be my best, too.

I met Ronda at my first duty station with the Air Force as a young lieutenant. She was a pilot and had a lot more experience than me, and she became a mentor as I tried to navigate leadership as a young officer, military rules and regulations, and a whole lot of questions about guys, kids, and womanhood. She is amazingly creative and executes every project with the same precision she demonstrated as an officer - her frosted sugar cookies are a work of art, and when she made the cakes at my wedding they were the talk of the reception.

I get to see Ronda this weekend - a work trip is taking me to the city she and her husband are living in, and I'm staying over a few extra days. I can't wait to see her, to talk, to catch up, and to just enjoy being with one of these special ladies. Somehow having just one friend like her makes up for not having fistfuls of other girlfriends around me all the time.

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