Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Stories of Friendship - Trinh and Rachel

Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio, a/k/a Raffaello di Urbino): Self-Portrait with a Friend (1517-1519, Oil on canvas)

Tell me, is it easier to make friends while a child when just running down the street can make you ‘buddies’? When everyone is from the same neighborhood and as a child, you don’t really understand what the economic division means, and we don’t have all those pre-conceived notions (yet) of who we’re not supposed to like, does friendship just come natural?

Some days the friends I had as a child are so clear. The area we lived in was mostly Section 8 housing, which is subsidized by the government for the economically disadvantaged. My mother prided herself on never actually living in the projects, but across the street from us stood ‘The Projects.’ These were housed, when I was a young little thing in Arizona, mostly immigrants as at the time Tempe was a place that was more of a stopping point as people made their way in America.

One of my closest friends was Trinh Phon (excuse me if I mangled the name). There were a lot of Cambodians at the time coming through. I remember the first time I ate at her house, how they sat on the floor and there was a big bowl in the middle. Everyone drank out of the same cup and that was something I was taught was ‘icky’ by my family. Birds were cooked in metal tins on the rooftops.

My mother used to warn me about her, say she was a thief, I didn’t believe it. We were friends, and friends don’t steal from each other! At the time my father, for some reason, had become the care taker of two giant drums of wheat (non-milled). My brother and I were yelled at often for playing with the wheat that was stored in the backyard. My mother was convinced that Trinh was stealing the wheat.

Now, we shared everything. One time she came over with some gum she got from her grandma – which turned out to be ‘chew’. Not something we were allowed to have. I think she did try some first, and thought it was nasty. Another time, she was talking about her sister needing new clothes. Now, I got my clothes as hand-me-downs from my brother, but I knew my mother had some of my older dresses in the closet, which I gave to Trinh. Little did I realize I just gave away my christening gown! My mother didn’t let me live that down for a while.

Trinh also came to my birthday parties. I still have ‘Ozma Of Oz’ – a book she gave me for one birthday. Again, my mother told me it was probably stolen. Well, then arrest me, it’s on my bookcase now.

Now, while she was a close friend, my best friend was Rachel. She lived with her mother and brother in an apartment complex that, well, was in an even worse area than my house. A story my mother always told involved a stabbing happening in front of those apartments. Though, in hindsight, that might have been told to keep me from asking to go to Rachel’s house.

In school, the teacher would give us a penny for each bottle top (the metal kind) that we brought in. I always looked on the streets for them, as at home it was plastic bottles or my parent’s cans of beer. But Rachel, without fail, on Mondays would bring in enough for a whole dollar. How I envied her! She told me that her mom got money off the rent by cleaning the other apartments, and they were always filled with the beer bottle caps! I was so envious of her to get that dollar every week.

When my mother packed up my brother and me up in that car to leave AZ, I was devastated (as I mentioned). But the worst was leaving Rachel. We were going off into the unknown – I didn’t even have an address to give her! A post card was sent once, from one of the states. But there wasn’t a response as there was no place to send one too. Rachel and her family were planning on moving as well, so we were doomed to be separated.

This is in answer to David's question - Who was your childhood friend?


Amel's Realm said...

Ohhhh this is so sad...separated from your childhood best friend. :-((((

Gee, a dollar at that time must've been high in value!!! ;-D

I LOVE this story, Vic!!! It reminds me of my own childhood. Maybe someday I'll write it down. ;-D

Paper Fan Club said...

I loved this post too. It's amazing how our memories idealize our childhood friendships and really, nothing in adulthood can quite measure up.

I am still in touch with my childhood best friend, although from an emotional and not geographic distance. Our lives are too different now to pick up where we left off. Sad but true.

Amel's Realm said...

Paper Fan Club: Barb, I KNOW what you're saying. I also feel that gap now with my close friends...we're still in touch with each other but not "in tune" anymore. I'd had a hard time accepting that, but I think lately I've been doing pretty well in that dept. Slowly but sure.

david mcmahon said...

Thanks so much for taking part, Victorya.

Victorya said...

Amel - I don't know many people who still have contact with their childhood friend anymore :(

And I'd LOVE to hear your childhood stories!

PFC - ooh, lucky you still being in touch with your best friend. I always wondered if it would be worse that we changed and moved on, rather than the forced move on. No, I can idealize that friendship more.

David - Any time :) Okay, when the question strikes me. I like them, and reading the myriad of responses.