I almost can’t remember a time in my life when she wasn’t a part of it, but there was a beginning. We had moved to the San Fernando Valley from the Southern California beach area the year before. We were one of the first homes in our new nineteen sixties tract home, with dirt and sage brush all around our house. We lived at the beginning of a cull-da-sac that had not been developed yet, but we knew that soon they would start construction. As you can imagine there were not many kids to play with and I was getting very bored with my bossy older brothers ideas of fun. Luckily, that summer they had started the homes at the end of our street. The construction site was like a bee hive with all the workers quickly assembling the new houses. We were usually woken up by the sound of hammering each morning. It was a very dry climate, not like the beach we had lived near before, where all my cousins lived. My parents had chosen to build a pool instead of adding air conditioning during this second summer in our new house. Our house was set on top of the highest hill in the town and a nice breeze blew through every day. One hot summer day while we were out at our new pool, the doorbell rang. My brother and I weren’t happy about that because it meant we had to get out of the pool until we could be supervised. My mother brought four strangers into our back yard. We had heard another fire department family bought one of the new houses and this was that family. The head of the group was, John Patchett and he was transferring to my Father’s fire station and these were the people who’d bought the house two doors away. As we were all introduced, I noticed John’s pretty wife Mickey looked like Doris Day and that she held a small boy in her arms named Johnny. Hidden behind them was a young girl. I knew even then at my ripe old age of eight that this was a serendipitous meeting, though I didn’t learn the meaning of the word until years later. I was so glad to soon have someone to play with beside my older brother that really she could have been a mannequin and I would have talked to her. She wasn’t a mannequin, she was very funny and open. She was shorter than I was, but most girls were. I’d had an early growth spurt, just like my Dad. She had a cute smile, brown hair, and pretty green eyes. Renee was her name and she wasn’t shy at all, as I had first thought. Renee asked, “What grade are you in and what is our school like?” I told her that, I wasn’t really sure, because during the summer they had built a new elementary school that we would all start together in the fall and I had never been to it. I said, “I was in third grade and she replied, “I’m going into second.” She said, “My favorite subject is Science, what is yours?” and I said. “I love science too, but I really like playing on the playground.” We found out that we both liked a lot of the same activities. We liked playing board games, playing with Barbie’s and the new sensational toy, Trolls. They were ugly little dolls with big bellies and long hair that stuck up from their heads. We also liked to listen to records that we could dance to, Dick Clark’s, “American Bandstand,” was a Saturday morning ritual where you could see the newest bands and dance moves and we both exclaimed, “I love that show!” I asked if she would like to bake a cake and said, “I will go ask my mom if she would let us make one.” She smiled me and said, “that sounds like fun.” This would be the theme for the next fifty years, one suggesting some adventure and the other one joyfully agreeing to participate. What one couldn’t think up, the other one could. Her family only stayed long enough to eat our finished cake and I was sad when Renee said, “We have to leave now, we are moving in tomorrow.” I had to catch my mother’s attention away from the group so I could ask her, “May Renee come over tomorrow while her parents move in?” My Mom said, “Yes, if her parents agree and thank you for not asking me in front of our guests”. They promised to let her return tomorrow to swim and spend the day, as they would be very busy unpacking. From that point on my life definitely was never the same.