It was a stealth move on my part.
I had seen the little blonde-haired girl playing on the swing set in her backyard down the street in our close-knit suburban Montreal neighbourhood.
One day, I decided to barge in on her territory.
“Hi, I’m Kristin. Let’s play.”
There was no asking. I just wandered into her backyard and demanded she play with me.
It was the start of a beautiful friendship.
That was 1973, one year before each of our little sisters were born. Before life became a maze of study, career, boyfriends, heartache, husbands, kids, and lots of shenanigans in between.
Lisa is still my best friend. Even though the time-space continuum has separated us over the years, we have always found a way to come back to each other like life has never passed.
Our storied friendship is legendary – at least in our own minds.
We still love to regale each other, and whomever will listen, with stories of our mischievous past whenever we meet.
There’s the time, we (make that, I), decided that my mom was taking too long picking us up from ballet class. So, in our leotards and tutus we walked over to Lakeshore Drive, a busy thoroughfare into the city, and stuck out our thumbs. I think I had seen someone hitchhike in a movie before.
My mom was the one who saw us, and let’s just say there was some explaining to do when she picked us up.
Eventually all was forgiven until the day we decided to welcome our neighbours to the fold.
In what was probably my brilliant idea, we went over to their house and wrote our names in bright red crayon all over its facade.
The neighbours promptly figured out who the Nobel Prize award winners were who scrawled on their shiny and new white stucco, and marched over to my mom to complain.
With bucket and soap in hand, we mended our ways – for a time.
My family moved from Québec to Toronto in 1977, and Lisa’s family left soon after to live on a farm in Mannville, Alta. We continued our friendship as pen pals and even started up our own fashion label, with the ingenious tag L&K Fashions, where we sent our latest drawn designs to each other.
On July 29, 1981, on the morning of Lady Diana and Prince Charles’ wedding, I took my first flight without my parents to Edmonton, where Lisa greeted me with open arms.
A few years later, she and her family left farm life and returned to the city, this time moving to Mississauga – a few Go Train stops from Toronto.
We were inseparable.
Our teenage years were fraught with ups and downs, which come with hormones and boys, but we managed to have fun going to her grandparents’ cottage, on camping trips with my parents, to some crazy parties and some great concerts. We had each other’s back, although there were times when I was jealous of her making new friends and doing things without me.
Our friendship eventually evolved into a deep understanding of one another’s needs, even when physical contact was not possible.
However, we did follow each other through adulthood – me to college in Belleville, and she to university in nearby Peterborough, before we both made the move west – me to Victoria, and her to Vancouver a year later.
She would eventually meet the love of her life and start a family with first a daughter and then a son, and a new home in the heart of the Kootenays. My destiny would take a little longer, but eventually I would find myself 350 kilometres away from her – the approximate distance from Vernon to Nelson.
In 40-plus years, we have seen each other through marriages (we were each other’s bridesmaids), the birth of our kids, the deaths of our fathers. We grow older and wiser, laughing, crying and waxing poetic about it all.
I am so glad I barged into her backyard that fateful day.
– Kristin Froneman is the arts-entertainment editor at The Morning Star.