Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it.

(I didn’t mention Nicole by name when I talked about my friendship with her and Kim because I was focusing on Kim, so here’s a little bit about Nicole.)

My ninth birthday took place just weeks before my family was moving. One of my best friends (the third member of the Owls) was moving the week of my birthday, so we arranged my party so that she could be there. I don’t remember a lot about the party itself, just the things that have to do with her: She and her brother came over and we decorated the cakes (you’ve never seen so much icing in one place). I remember we said goodbye, and she left, and I cried while my mother vacuumed the floor. And I remember that she gave me a copy of Anne of Green Gables, a hardcover copy that I still have today.

Because I was missing my friend, I read it right away. I don’t know if she was the one who chose it or if she had ever read it. Even at 9, I had already figured out that there were people who were cooler and more informed than I was, and my friend was definitely one of those people. If it was associated with her in some way, I was definitely going to read it. When I got in my waterbed that night, I started navigating sentences like, “Yet with all this Mrs. Rachel found abundant time to sit for hours at her kitchen window, knitting “cotton warp” quilts—she had knitted sixteen of them, as Avonlea housekeepers were wont to tell in awed voices—and keeping a sharp eye on the main road that crossed the hollow and wound up the steep red hill beyond.” I had to get my mother to translate, because I had never seen the word “wont” used in that way. I still think of Mrs. Lynde almost every time I see it.

It probably goes without saying that I loved the book. Anne is the perfect companion for a nine-year-old girl who is about to move to an unknown place. She gave me hope that I could start over and find a friend like Diana, that I could conquor the Josie Pyes in my life, and that I could win the hearts of people in my new town. I read it over and over, driving my mother crazy with talk of kindred spirits and bosom friends and the depths of despair. I haven’t talked much about the book on this site (especially compared to some of my other favorites), or even really to Mike, because I don’t really have the words to explain my feelings about Anne and Marilla and Diana and Gilbert and Avonlea. Anne was such a personal experience for me that sometimes it surprises me to think that other people have read it, too, and that it means something to them. I didn’t think I was creative or passionate enough to be Anne, but I wanted to be her and to have a bosom friend and to walk the ridgepole and to wear puffed sleeves. I wanted to write stories and float in a dory and embrace romance (not just the boy-and-girl kind, either).

The book paved the way for the miniseries, which led to me reading the rest of the books in the series, which culminated in our trip to PEI for our honeymoon, where we saw the play. I count the books as one of my favorite series, and my favorite thing about them is that there’s an Anne book for all the different stages of my life. In college, I liked Anne of the Island the best, but these days I like Anne’s House of Dreams. And yet, I don’t talk about them much to anyone. My best friend in high school and college borrowed Anne of Green Gables from me and dismissed it as “stupid.” (I should have known then that she wasn’t worth keeping as a friend.) I think it made me hesitant to open up about books that are really close to my heart.

Anne makes me think of my friend Nicole: The gift of her friendship and the last gift she gave me before we both moved away. Anne reminds me of my nine-year-old self, passionate and curious and just starting to become self-conscious. And she gives me the feeling of acceptance and understanding that I often couldn’t find outside of books. The worn-out paperback series on my shelf is a testament to the comfort that Anne and her books have provided me over the years.

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