Kindred Spirits

My brother had an orange “pup” tent left over from his brief foray into Cub Scouts.   We had set it up a few times in the backyard of our old house to camp, and he quickly grew bored with the tedium of putting the posts in the ground, securing the ropes to the posts, puting the poles up to hold the fabric into the shape of a elongated triangle.

I loved the pup tent, and when my brother tired of it, it didn’t seem to bother him terribly when I started using it.  I would set it up just beyond the fencing of our tiny patio, in the common area in back of our condo.  Even on the hottest summer days it seemed like a safe space, a refuge.  I would put in my sleeping bag, my pillow, some books, a flashlight.  It was fun during the day.  But I wasn’t exactly sure about hanging out in it alone at night.

One day, I told my new friend Dawn about the tent.  She loved the idea of staying out all night in the tent, and was sure that her parents would allow us to pitch the tent behind her condo; their patio wasn’t all the way fenced in, so they would be able to see us through their sliding glass door, not to mention their bedroom window.

I was excited.  Dawn and I were both avid readers and had a lot in common.  We both liked to write, and we both liked the same type of music.  Her family intrigued me; she had three very much older half siblings who were grown up and didn’t live at home.  Dawn was the only child of her parents’ marriage, and lived in the townhome complex with them.  Dawn’s father was younger than her mother, which I thought was incredibly unusual at the time.  Both of her parents were extremely nice to me, although her father’s gruffness made me nervous.

We set up the tent in her yard, and got ready for the long night.  We talked about the girls at school, we talked about my brother (on whom Dawn had a crush, even though I was trying to warn her that he might not be the best boyfriend material), we talked about our parents.  We talked about books; we were both currently enthralled with the “Anne of Green Gables” series.   Our local bookstore was within walking distance, and I had just gotten a copy of the fifth book in the series, “Anne’s House of Dreams”.  She was reading her mother’s castoff copy of V.C. Andrews’ “Flowers in the Attic.”  I was shocked that her mother would let her read such a grown up book, and resolved immediately to get a copy of my own. We talked about her pet rats, which seemed disgusting and sweet all at the same time.

That night was the first of many nights we would spend in each other’s company.   I knew that night that I’d found a “kindred spirit”,  just as Anne of Green Gables had found in Diana.   The refuge and escape I felt from the tension at home was a relief.  The companionship and comfort I felt in having found a friend who understood me so well was life changing.

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