As the new girl at St. Rita School in Dundalk, Laura Klym timidly entered her first-grade classroom knowing most of her fellow classmates had established friendships from kindergarten and that finding kinship wouldn’t be an easy task.
By the end of the week, she spotted a quiet towheaded girl with the same colored pencil box and figured it was a sign from God that he had sent her Heather Dillard to end her loneliness.
Fast forward 11 years and though St. Rita School is now closed, the friendship between the two girls preparing to enter their senior year at The Catholic High School of Baltimore continues to blossom.
In fact, the two consider themselves best friends and if schoolmates encounter either one of the 17-year-old Dundalk girls out of the company of the other, the question is immediately raised, “where is Laura,” or “where is Heather?”
“It’s so funny to me when that happens, like we’re supposed to always be attached at the hip,” said Laura, the more gregarious of the twosome. “But, I guess I can understand it. I mean, we do seem to be together more than we are apart.”
When Heather reminisces about her childhood, there are countless sleepovers, play dates, parties, school dances and sporting events that included Laura and when her mother allowed her to drive solo after passing her driver’s test, it was her constant companion she went to pick up.
So entwined are the two that their mothers have become good friends, as have their younger sisters – who continue to play on the same softball team.
They also seemed to be a contrast of one another.
“I’m like go, go, go,” Laura said. “She is so quiet. I wish you would talk more,” she told Heather.
“And I wish you would shut up more,” Heather dryly told Laura, who giggled at the suggestion. “Sometimes she is too much of a perfectionist,” an assertion to which Laura freely admitted.
Though the years are filled with great memories of dual schoolgirl hijinks, laughter and generally good times, their friendship has weathered its share of tense moments and strained relations.
Indeed, the two were somewhat estranged during their last two years at St. Rita’s.
“There wasn’t anything dramatic that separated us,” Heather said. “She had other friends during that time and I had other friends.”
“And, we still stayed in touch during that time,” Laura interjected. “It just wasn’t a whole lot.”
During their eighth-grade graduation ceremony at St. Rita’s, Laura said she was overcome by emotion and was instinctively drawn to her one-time best friend, sought Heather out and the two embraced as if the past two-year separation hadn’t occurred.
“I bawled my eyes out and considered it to be a reunion with her,” Laura said. “I knew at that time that yes, we were meant to be best friends. I got all chick-flick on her.”
As the girls – who sometimes bicker like sisters – look forward to their senior year at Catholic High, they are busy seeking out colleges that fit their individual interests and realize their paths may diverge in the fall of 2008.
Since Laura is considering criminal justice programs that will one day lead her to the U.S. Air Force Academy and Heather is leaning toward a major in nursing or psychology, they are dubious of finding a college that will accommodate both of their objectives.
“We’ll see how it goes and where we get accepted,” Laura said. “It’d be great if we went to the same college, but even if we don’t, I think we’ll find a way to get together. I mean, we have to party together.”