Favorite Four

September 22, 2008
By Sarah Venable, Springfield, MO

When I was a little girl, nothing meant more to me than playing with my best friends. It was easy for us to all play together, because we all lived almost right next door to each other; Amber lived in a house across the street from Erika and me, while Erika’s home was just one over from mine, and Teresa and Sam lived in the house directly to the left of her. Though we all fought a lot, picking sides while literally fighting across the street, and went through many ups and downs, I still considered each one of them my best friend, and I will always remember the effect our friendships had on my life.

The first of the four girls I met was Erika. It was the summer right before I turned five years old, and both of us had just moved into our houses on Mary Ann Street. I remember this girl with frizzy red hair and glasses running through the neighbor’s yard with her huge family streaming behind her. I had run and hid in my garage because I was so shy. Erika came in anyway and said, “My auntie lost her earring in the grass, will you help us find it?” My mom told me to run along and help so I could make a new friend. I don’t recall whether or not we ever found the missing earring that day, but I do remember that after being introduced to Erika’s entire family, Erika took me across the street, after we made sure to look both ways five times each, of course, and we walked up to a dark-headed little girl. She was sitting at a table on the sidewalk in her swimsuit coloring a picture when she introduced herself to me as “Amber.”

After that, Erika, Amber, and I were inseparable. This was beside the fact that Erika went to a Catholic school and Amber was in the grade above me. While Amber went to kindergarten, I would even wait with her in the mornings for her school bus and then I would wait for her every day at her bus stop to come home from school so we could play. Then we would go get Erika and all play “house” or Barbie’s or tag. Erika even invited me to come to her gymnastics class with her one day, so I did, and I remember her teaching me how to do a cartwheel in her driveway right before we left. I liked the sport so much that I joined her class too and decided I wanted to be a cheerleader when I got older.

A couple of years later Sam and Teresa, two sisters, moved in next door to Erika, so we all walked to their house to meet them. Sam was in the grade above Erika and Amber, while Teresa was just one year younger than me. They quickly joined our little group and we all became best friends. Teresa and Sam even had a big desk, two little desks, and some old school books from their aunt who was a teacher for us to play “school” with, while Sam always got to be the teacher since she was oldest. One day we found a play in one of the school books and picked parts so we could act it out. Every day after school we would go to Sam and Teresa’s garage and practice. We even decided we were going to perform the play in front of the entire neighborhood, so we made up tickets to sell and flyers to post on stop signs on every street, but then we argued over who was a better actress and which part we would have rather played and the performance never occurred.
The garage play argument was not the only fight we got into. Erika and Amber got into a huge fight one day after we were playing tag. Amber had supposedly pushed Erika down when she tagged her, so they both ran home, pushing and fighting each other until they reached their moms and told them what happened. The two moms stood on their porches and yelled at each other across the street about whose daughter did what. This set a bad example, because after that, it seemed all the time Amber would stand in her driveway and Erika would stand in hers, and they would yell insults at each other across the street, forcing Sam, Teresa, and me to pick sides. Teresa and Sam were better friends with Erika than Amber, so they always stood beside her, but since they were all my best friends, I never knew what to do. I didn’t like Amber having to stand solo, so I would usually choose her side of the street. When the other three girls began making fun of Amber for having a hearing aid and for the way she talked because she was born with a hearing deficiency, I knew it had gone too far. I stuck by Amber’s side and that helped us grow even closer.

As we got older, our friendship grew stronger until I was 8 and found out that Amber was moving to another town. Huge tears rolled down my face and didn’t stop that night until after I had fallen asleep, because life would never be the same without her, I had decided, but at least I still had my other friends. Only a year later, I found out Erika was also moving, but a far greater move: to Arizona. I was terrified that each of my four best friends from the neighborhood were going to leave me behind, but thankfully this awful fate never took place, as Sam and Teresa to this day still live just two houses away.

Though we tried to continue our friendships, they’ve only seemed to last to the point where every once in awhile we’ll call or email and ask how the other is doing. I’ve seen Erika just once since she moved and Amber maybe four times; I recently visited her house and we caught up on all the good times we missed. Though our lives are all very different now than when we were little, these four girls still had a huge impact on who I have become today. Being friends with Amber taught me that I need to stand up for what is right always. Erika and I taking gymnastics together is the reason I am a cheerleader now and have been for the past 3 years. Sam has always looked out for me and felt like a big sister to me. And Teresa is, to this day, my best friend who I have always been able to tell anything and everything to, and she always will be. Though I met these four girls as a young girl, now as a seventeen year old, I will still never forget the memories we made or the effect they had on my life.

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