Kristen Bruno, this is your life!

Posted: April 28th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Friends and Strangers, Miss Kate | No Comments »

It’s just like they say in the book. At Kate’s age kids get really interested in hearing stories. Stories about when they were a baby. Stories about when you were a kid. Kate has even asked us to recount endlessly the story (if you can even call it that) of when our neighbor Matt came over after Paige’s birth to bring us some cookies and a rattle.

More often than not when we’re driving in the car these days if we’re not singing Farmer Jason‘s arrowhead song, I’m telling (or retelling) Kate some tale about my youth. The one about when the cop drove me home from first grade being one of her–and sure, one of my–faves.

So it only seems fitting that in the past couple weeks my youth is catching up with me. In part, due to my attempts to make that happen. Every now and again I get to wondering what happened to my friend Sydney Smith–my beloved ally and cohort from 4th grade until her parents ruthlessly decided to move to Texas before 8th grade.

Turns out that Googling the name Sydney Smith doesn’t get you very far.
Especially when names are changed through marriage. I need to get the good folks at Google to crack that nut. Search:
Sydney Smith. Search results: Did you mean: Sydney McCann

I’m sure everyone has their own Sydney. A friend who had a comforter
with peach-colored fuzzy lining that you envied? Someone you did an
elementary school gymnastics routine to the theme song of Rocky with,
and then forgot what you were supposed to be doing part-way through?
The person you used to walk to the downtown pizza parlor with, and
would see the crazy man with the dime on his forehead?

You know. That friend.

It was my wise old dad who brilliantly offered the best way to track Sydney down. Ask the school where we both went for her contact info. It’s true. Any time I’ve ever moved it seems some school or other that I’ve attended sends me mail hitting me up for money long before the thought of telling anyone my new address has even crossed my mind. If anyone would know where Sydney landed, it was Wheeler.

But it turned out that even The Wheeler School had lost touch with her. Lucky for me, they got their crew of former CIA agent PIs on the case, because within a couple weeks of my inquiry, I got an email from none other than Sydney herself. 

Of course I imagined that if we ever crossed paths again she’d still have that strawberry blond bowl cut and like to pass notes in class. But turns out some twenty-odd (!!) years later, she’s all grown up with a husband and three kids. What’s more, her braces are even off!

After some email exchanges and phone tag we finally connected, and amidst Kate’s endless interruptions managed to skim through some of our major life events from the past two decades. Now she and her hub are planning a trip to the Bay Area at the end of the month. Before I know it we’ll be sitting across the table from each other drinking wine! I hope our husbands don’t mind if we pass a few notes too.

Damn it, I want to call my mother and tell her all about this. I’m sure she’d remember some funny thing Sydney and I did together that with my dementia-grade memory I’ve forgotten all about.

So, on top of Finding Sydney (soon to be a major motion picture), after a Friday morning latte run in the ‘hood with the girls–back when I was still ‘on dairy’ (sniff!)–I got home to hear this message on my machine:

“Hey, if this is Kristen Bruno, this is Leah Katz. I think I just drove past you pushing an orange stroller on College Avenue at Hudson. Oh wow, I really think it’s you! If it’s you will you please call me back? And if it’s not you, I hope the McCluskys are doing great!”

Leah was one of my dearest friends at Kenyon, and my roomie sophomore year. She was a great integrating force for me when I moved to SF 16 years ago, but along the way we managed to fall out of touch. Last I saw her was at our ten-year Kenyon reunion and I think she was living in Berkeley and teaching. We still haven’t managed to connect over the phone, but I’m dying to talk to and hopefully see her, and learn all the details of her grown-up life.

It seems like it’s only a matter of time before my ornery second grade teacher, Miss Vermette, jumps out of the bushes at me. And when she does, I’ll be totally ready for her.

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