Monday, June 30, 2008


Different people have different definitions of friendship. For some, it is the trust in an individual that he / she won't hurt you. For others, it is unconditional love. There are some who feel that friendship is companionship. People form definitions based on the kind of experiences they have had. They say a person who has found a faithful friend has found a priceless treasure. I found just such a treasure in the summer of 1957 when I was eight years old and the summer Karma Ann Hulslander moved on the block. I don't remember meeting her, it's as if one day she just appeared and became my best friend. Karma was the original Pippy Longstocking. She moved to Oklahoma with her mom, sister Arta and baby brother Kenny while her dad remained in Colorado to run their ranch. Karma's mother had a dream of becoming a doctor so she and the kids moved here so she could attend the University. Mrs. Hulslander was about 4 feet 11 inches tall and she was as round as she was tall. Both Karma and Arta towered over their mother and baby Kenny wasn't far behind.
Karma was the first tomboy I ever knew. She wore boy’s jeans and cowboy boots when she bothered to wear shoes at all. Her long brown hair was worn in a ponytail and her face was covered in brownish red freckles. She was like a magnet and I was drawn to her instantly. Karma had an unending imagination and being with her was always a new adventure. She was the Lone Ranger and I was her faithful companion Tonto.
Karma and I couldn’t have been more different. She was fiercely independent, could hold her own with any boy and was what daddy referred too as “tough as a boot”. I on the other hand was a timid, insecure, sissy girl. I wanted to be brave and daring but it just wasn’t in my nature. I was a peacemaker at heart and avoided confrontation at any cost. Just being with Karma made me believe I too could be brave and daring even if it was only wishful thinking.
To earn spending money Karma collected pop bottles. She received 2 cents a bottle and she would hike all over the campus picking up bottles and trading them in for money to purchase little wooden animals from Dee's gift shop. Karma would have rather played with those little animals than any old doll. One Christmas her dad built her a doll house complete with electric lights but it was never used to house a Barbie or any other doll for that matter. Karma's prized animals were the happy homeowners.
One summer, Karma's dad built a playhouse in their back yard but Karma insisted it was not a playhouse but a ranch. No matter what name it was given it was a really great place to play. We made dishes our of mud and even had running water after Karma found an old enema bag and hung it from the chimney of the barbeque grill. One night we decided to play hide n' seek and the ranch house was home base. Everyone took off to hide and my brother Mike climbed up into Hulslander's attic. He probably would never have been found if he hadn't fallen through their living room ceiling. Mr. Hulslander was sitting in the living room when Mike's legs came crashing through the ceiling. There he was, dangling above Mr. Hulslander's head and the game was over.
Karma's mom never got accepted to Medical school. In the 50's it was very hard for women to get admitted plus she was older than most of the other students and considered a bad risk. She did go on to pharmacy school and after her graduation the whole family moved back to Colorado. Karma would come back in the summers to visit riding the bus from Colorado to Oklahoma all by herself. One summer when I was 12 years old I went back to Colorado with her. To this day I can't believe my mother let me go and she never would have if I had been with anyone other than resourceful Karma. She was a wise old soul in a 12 year-old body who made us all wish to be Peter Pan and remain children forever.

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