Alone with My Friends

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Some would say I was isolated, growing-up as I did without siblings at the end of a dusty, dirt road. I suppose we did live off the beaten path. Twenty miles from the local grocer, a thirty-minute walk to our closest neighbor, and surrounded with cotton fields on every side. But this was the typical life of a farm girl and most of us rarely realized our seclusion.

 

Ours was an era that ignored such trivialities as the whims of a bored, little girl. With no internet, interaction, or entertainment, children were expected to amuse themselves. So propping my elbows on our shag orange carpet, I spent most of my summers on my stomach, immersed in the Wonderful World of Peanuts.

 

Black and white pages beckoned me like a looking glass into another realm. Despite the simple line drawings of pen and ink, these cartoon characters were my friends, cheerfully inviting me to crawl into their animated dominion. Together, we flew kites, kicked footballs, and even skated on ice ponds throughout those long, Texas Julys.

 

I was never alone. I had a girlfriend named Lucy, a little bird named Woodstock, and a companion named Frieda with naturally, curly hair. In the course of a few short weeks, I leapt into autumn with Linus (“Never jump into a pile of leaves with a wet sucker”), leaned against the mailbox with Charlie Brown (“Waiting for Valentine’s”), and learned to appreciate Pig Pen’s dusty appearance (“He could have on him some of the soil of ancient Babylon”). I even struggled with a beagle, strip by strip, to find the best sentence for his upcoming novel (“It was a dark and stormy night”) and then shared Snoopy’s heartbreak when he finally heard back from his publisher (“He’s gone into ‘rejection-slip’ shock”).

 

After a glorious August, I returned to the halls of magic markers, floor wax, and recess sweat. I traded my paperbacks for hardbacks, and exchanged my imagination for determination — all for the sake of an education. Although the renewed personal interactions were pleasant, I occasionally found myself fondly recalling the two-dimensional friendships I’d so enjoyed during those dog days of summer.

 

One quiet Saturday afternoon, I rejoined my Peanuts pals as they lay looking at the clouds. I stepped into the picture just in time to hear Lucy ask Linus what he saw in the sky. “Well,” he answered, “those clouds up there look like the map of the British Honduras on the Caribbean… That cloud up there looks a little like the profile of Thomas Eakins, the famous painter and sculptor… And that group of clouds over there gives me the impression of the stoning of Stephen… I can see the apostle Paul standing there to one side…”

 

When asked the same question, Charlie Brown didn’t disappoint. “I was going to say I saw a ducky and a horsie,” he told Lucy and I, “but I changed my mind.”

 

I smiled knowing I was not alone, but at home, down a dusty, dirt road with friends.

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