Once again, I was in a new school. So was a girl in my class named Paris. That's where the similarities ended.
I was tall ands she was petite. My thick, black hair had been recently cut short into a shag style. Her natural blonde hair flowed to her waist and looked great when she flipped it around. I was 12 and one of the oldest in the class. She was 11 and the youngest in the class. I was awkward and shy. She wasn't. I wore baggy overalls, sweatshirts and lime green hiking boots. Paris wore rhinestone platform shoes and expensive, designer jeans….
I couldn't stand her. I considered her my enemy. She liked me. She wanted to be friends.
One day, she invited me over and I said yes — I was too shocked to answer any other way. My family had moved six times in six years, and I had never managed to develop many friendships. No one had invited me over to play.. But this girl who wore tinted lip-gloss and the latest fashions wanted me to go home with her after school.
She lived in a fun part of town that had two pizza places, an all-night bookstore, a movie theater and a park. As we walked from the school bus stop through her neighborhood, I tried to guess which house might be hers. Was it the white one with the perfect lawn or the three-story house with a silky golden retriever on the front porch?
I got very surprised when she led me into an apartment building, which smelled like frying food, chemical cleaning sprays and incense! She lived on the fourth floor in a two-room place with her mother, her stepfather, her two brothers and her sister.
When we got to the room she shared with her sister, she took out a big case of Barbies — which was my next surprise. I would have thought she'd outgrown them. I had never played with them. But we sat on the floor of a walk-in closet, laughing as we made up crazy stories about the Barbies. That's when we found out that we both wanted to be writers when we were older and we both had wild imaginations.
We had a great day that afternoon. Our jaws ached from smiling so much. She showed me her wardrobe, which had mostly come from a designer clothing store down the block. The woman who owned it used her as a model sometimes for her newspaper ads and gave her clothes in exchange.
Paris had the whole neighborhood charmed. The bookstore owners lent her fashion magazines, the movie theater gave her free passes and the pizza place let her have free slices. Soon I was included in her magic world. We slept over at each other's houses, spent every free moment together. My dark hair grew out and I learned to love being tall.
Paris, my first real friend since childhood, helped me get through the rough years of early adolescence and taught me an amazing and very surprising thing about making friends: that your worst enemy can turn out to be your best friend.