From Dead Squirrels to Best Friends

Shared by Martha Cole on February 20, 2019

The day my family drove to our new house in Rochester, NY was one fraught with anxiety, hope, and excitement. This was our second move in as many years and at nine years old I was feeling unsettled and untethered. We pulled onto Newcastle Road and I turned my head to look at two kids my age huddled at the curbs edge. They were squatting together, heads almost touching, looking downwards. Then I realized that they were looking at a dead squirrel that lay in the gutter and the boy was poking it with a stick. Just then my mother called out, "This is it, our new home!" I raised my eyes to see a yard of waist high grass and overgrown pine trees blocking a monstrous house. I glanced back in time to see the boy and girl look up from the gutter and notice our car turning into the driveway. My heart sunk to the very bottom of my toes. My parents had moved us to a haunted house in a place where kids played with roadkill.

Little did I know that Ward and Katie would come to be my best friends for many years and that Ward and I would play for countless hours using our imagination and whatever we found in nature to create a magical miniature world we named "Dirt City." While we never used roadkill in our play I realized that it was that moment in my life and the feelings that I was trapped in that skewed my view of Ward and Katie and the squirrel. I shared the curiosity and innovation with my fellow explorers of the gutter and that was the door that opened our friendship. Katie and I grew apart as we got older, but Ward and I stayed friends all through high school. I will always miss you Ward, my oldest BFF.

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