Five 12-year-old Christian girls sitting in a row at Bible camp, giggling and poking each other while the camera flashes. Our parents are pastors and worship leaders, our lives like carbon copies of each other in a steady rhythm of sermons, youth group meetings and ministry outreach.
Twenty-two years pass.
We are two blondes, a former blonde, a brunette and one who can't remember what her real hair colour is anymore.
Our jeans range from size 4 to 20.
We have three tattoos, two navel rings, a nose stud, a grown-in tongue stud and too many ear piercings to count.
Three of us married our high school sweethearts, two of us married our college sweethearts and one of us divorced her husband last year after a decade of his drug abuse and serious mental illness, including two suicide attempts.
We have nine living children ranging from an eight-week-old boy to a fifteen-year-old girl, and six babies who never made it to our arms.
Two of us are stay at home moms, one is an urban planner, one is an accountant and one is a community centre co-ordinator in a low-income neighbourhood.
Our household annual incomes have ranged from $30,000 to $140,000, and when one of us suffered through a year of her husband's unemployment while she was on maternity leave, we left a bundle of cash in her front door. No names on the card: we didn't want her to feel awkward.
We are a pastor's wife, a worship leader, two agnostics and an atheist.
Five 34-year-old women sitting in a circle, sharing stories and unyielding support.
We are best friends forever.
* * * * *
I've written in the past about my less-than-favourable views on female friendship. These women are the exception to the rule and I treasure them.
Update: Today I'm doing a fun blogfest at L.G. Keltner's Writing on the Edge (see badge on right sidebar). It's her first blogoversary and the theme is "beginnings". I actually linked up a different post there, but it occurred to me just now that this post is about beginnings too, so I thought I'd mention the blogfest here as well.