There is a stretch of road in my hometown that used to be a dense forest which is now lined with hideous townhouses. Whenever I go by there, I am transported back to being 6 years old.

It was in this hundred acre wood that I discovered what it was to discover, to be aware of learning new things and be awed by nature. There was a lone cottage, with horses, dogs, cats, bunnies, and more‚ all sharing this place with a girl and her parents.

She was my best friend, with a name like a ninja‚ KATO.

Kato was one of those magical friends who was larger than life, my life certainly.
Two years older with so much more life experience, I thought she was amazing.
She had lived in Japan and tried to teach me some Japanese words.

We gave Barbies extreme crew cuts and left them to mould in the wading pool.
We rode horses into the forest.
We explored deep in the North Florida woods around her house, finding sharks’ teeth and rescuing injured animals.
We ate fish eye candy and (dry) cat food.
We dared to light a match and then throw it away without dowsing it in water, so we had to spread all the trash on the lawn until we found it. I will never forget that lesson of consequences.

We were never bored, always doing, creating, imagining.
Staying up late, telling stories about great adventures.

By example, she taught me to trust myself, how to be confident, brave, and clever.

But then we moved far away and didn’t see each other for several years. And of course life had changed. That two years became a much wider divide that before. But no matter.

My early girlhood was shaped by time we spent together and helped define who I am as an adult.
I have NO illusions that I would have had much less of an effect on her life.
But again, no matter.

We remain friends to this day and I still think she is amazing.

-Ashley E. Remer
Head Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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