When I was seven years old, my family went to meet the Roraback family to explore the possibility of Mrs. Roraback watching my sister and me while our parents were at work. They were a big family with four kids, and they lived on a lot of land with an assortment of animals. I remember that day because they had a daughter my age and I instantly connected with her. We have remained close throughout the years and Jessica (Roraback) Rich has become my lifelong friend.
During my first encounter with Jessica, she asked if I wanted to jump on her trampoline. That invitation turned into a showdown of tricks and an all-out flipping contest. I laugh, reflecting on this moment, knowing how competitive we both are today. Although we never attended the same school, we have birthdays that are nine days apart, we married within 20 days of each other, and had babies at relatively the same times (two of them having birthdays just ten days apart). Together, she and I have maintained a lasting friendship, even through the days of landlines. This is because genuine friendship is born from shared experiences, and we have had a lot of those cherished moments!
As we are in the dead heat of summer, I think about the fun times with Jessica and how we filled our summer with sleepovers and the torment of her big sister, Alaina. Our goal was to wake before Alaina and her friends so we could claim the three-wheeler because the early bird got the three-wheeler for the day. One day we all woke up close to the same time and Jess and I, with our lovingly competitive natures, made a B-Line for the three-wheeler even though it meant we spent the entire day in our pajamas so we would not forfeit our claim. I believe the same day Alaina rolled Jessica’s room in toilet paper and painted on her unicorn poster, which lead to a devastated eleven-year-old!
Six Flags Over Texas was also a regular summer-time adventure for us. Back then our parents would let us wander off alone without a cell phone (because no one had such a thing). Parting with a meet-up time and location was the simple way it went down. I feel pretty certain we wore matching puff paint or airbrush t-shirts, and we thought we were the best things since sliced bread. On one of our trips to Six Flags, somehow Jess got lost. I remember frantically searching for her, but I do not really remember how she went missing in the first place. We were probably competing to get back to the meeting spot first and took different routes. Thankfully, she was soon found, and I think it is obvious I won that one since she was temporarily MIA.
Jess and I have spent a lot of summers and lived a lot of life together. Alaina’s husband, Ryan, was Fred’s roommate in Mt. Pleasant, and they actually ended up being our neighbors when Fred and I first married. I love how God has kept our lives so closely intertwined throughout the years. Friendships are unique because, unlike family relationships, they are a choice. The summer months for me are nostalgic because they remind me of all those summers long ago when we chose each other. I am so thankful for our friendship and all the precious moments that helped us build its foundation. And lucky for us, it was born in the days of landlines when there was no internet evidence to expose all our secrets! Some things are better kept safely stored in the shared childhood memories of special friends.