Both of us. The same. White knee socks with red argyle diamonds. I loved those socks. My mom had bought them for my first day of kindergarten, and it was my first time wearing them.
Her name was Verna, and we knew we were best friends right from that first day at Pioneer Elementary. We sat next to each other any chance we could, and we scooted our rugs together at rest time. I remember she smelled like a combination of my backyard and our laundry basket. When we put our arms side by side, we smiled at how much tanner she was than me.
I was a walker, and an entire group of neighbor kids would make our way home together after morning kindergarten, people peeling off the group, one by one, on the way home. But on that first day of school my mom and my brother, Tim, came with the car to pick me up.
"That's my best friend!" I was so excited to spot Verna, walking all by herself, sticking close to the curb like her mother must have taught her.
She was walking in the opposite direction from my path home, and my mom pulled the station wagon over to offer her a ride.
Tim and I slid over to give her room and I can vividly remember her sitting forward on her seat, telling my mom how to get to her house.
My mom must have been surprised at how far Verna would have had to walk. Her house was all the way under the highway, and when we pulled up to let her out, I could see why her mom couldn't come to pick her up. Her car was in the middle of the front yard and it didn't have all of the wheels on it.
I was so excited to wear those socks again, and I couldn't wait for my mom to wash them. Verna wore hers again right away the very next day. And the next one after that. Finally, mine were ready to wear again, but this time I remember that Verna's looked dirtier than mine. I told my mom this when I got home, and she said that Verna's mom probably didn't have a washing machine. Not everyone on the reservation had running water.
I remember wanting my mom to wash those socks for her in our machine. But something kept me from offering. Even in kindergarten, Verna had a quiet pride about her.
We used to trade sweaters sometimes on the playground. Hers was thicker, and it had better cushioning when we wrapped them around the bottom rungs of the money bars, each throwing one diamond-socked leg over, and hooking our arms in place to twirl.
I wish I still had those argyle socks -- and a friend like Verna.