I assumed it was a misunderstanding, or shyness, and our friendship continued to deepen. I was occasionally at her house when her husband came home on his lunch break or after work. He was a bit odd, but always friendly. Another family of neighbors went to the same church as my friend, and they were distant cousins. The other family nearly always stayed indoors and didn't speak to anyone in the neighborhood. Rude people.
It turned out my daughter was in classes with the daughter of the "rude" neighbors. As a class volunteer, I got to know their little girl and, through the playground, her older sister. Once I saw the family in public and both little girls ran up to me to chat. Their parents refused to acknowledge my presence (can you imagine?).
About a year into our friendship, my friend started having some problems with her marriage. Her husband told her she couldn't talk to me because I didn't go to their church. They were Pentecostals. She said she couldn't talk to anyone unless they went to her church at that point. Our friendship continued, in secret, and I worried about my friend. I thought it was a sign of possible abuse for her husband to be so controlling of who she could speak to.
And then, last summer, my friend's family moved away and I only heard from her rarely on Facebook. I had almost forgotten her when her daughter showed up in the neighborhood this weekend - staying with the family who doesn't talk to the rest of us (the parents don't; their kids do).
Seeing her again reminded me of the strange and secret friendship and it reminded me of something else: how, for the first half of my life, being forbidden to associate with outsiders was the norm. How far removed that life is, in nearly every way. I had forgotten the imprisoned feelings. I have come to take for granted the freedoms I now have - that my children have always had: to talk to, socialize with, include anyone. It's a great feeling, and tonight I'm grateful for the freedom I have.