My parents came to Chicago from Italy in 1955. We spoke no English in the house. It's crazy to imagine how two people left their country with no plans and managed to find a comfy part of the city in which to raise their family. They didn't know how to speak the language, yet they somehow knew what was best.
When I started Kindergarten, I only spoke Italian. I remember that first day clearly. Mom is holding my hand as I approach the glass doors to school. I wasn't afraid. That day, or a few days later, I was sitting at my desk across from another little girl. I was talking to her and she kept laughing. I thought she understood what I was saying. I loved it! I just kept chatting...in Italian. She just laughed. The teacher came up to us and in order to keep me quiet, she placed masking tape over my mouth. (Parochial School!) I learned later that year, as I started to understand English, that my new friend was laughing at the gold hoop earrings in my pierced ears. No one else had pierced ears with gold hoops.
That little girl is still my friend today. There are 5 of us who have been friends since our early days in school. This year we turned 56 and we were born in 1956. So grateful to be able to say this. We get together once or twice a year to celebrate and catch up. Life has thrown us all a curve or two or three. Through it all, we've managed to be able to hold on to a piece of our childhood.
Last night we celebrated our friendship at a terrific restaurant. Not one woman at the table looks over 40! Gorgeous, smart, warm, generous, funny. I'm so grateful to linger over dessert to catch up and share. No timer on a phone that says, "Your time is up."