I met Ashleigh in the fourth grade. It was my first day at a new school that was five times the size of my previous one, and I was absolutely petrified.
Noting the look of sheer terror on my face as I approached his large wooden desk, my homeroom teacher sat me beside a girl with long brown hair tightly bound in a low ponytail by a multi-coloured scrunchie. She was wearing an Eeyore sweatshirt, which conveniently matched my purple Pooh sweatshirt.
“Hi,” she said, her voice wavering with uncertainty. “I’m Ashleigh.”
I can’t remember if I ever said anything back. I was too focused on my mom, who was lingering in the hallway outside. Tears welled up in my eyes as she mouthed ‘Goodbye’ and gave me a sympathetic smile, her eyes brimming with motherly guilt for leaving me in this strange place.
I remember constantly rearranging things in the cavity of my desk, lifting my head only to sneak peeks at the new arrivals coming through the door.
When we recount this day, Ashleigh likes to add that while I was fiddling with my pencils, I continually scribbled ‘Mommy I want to go home’ on my notepad. She likes to embellish.
Ashleigh and I didn’t say a word after that, not until the bell above the door buzzed obnoxiously, signaling break time. I had been dreading that moment, knowing I would be the only kid in that classroom who didn’t have a friend to share summer stories with or compare notes on the teacher’s sweat stains.
As Ashleigh got up to leave, the teacher signaled her to go over to his desk. They talked for a few minutes, then Ashleigh came to my desk and asked if I wanted to hang out with her. I could tell she didn’t want to ask me; I was the dorky new kid with buck teeth and a mushroom cut.
She introduced me to her friends while I nervously chewed on my fruit snacks and granola bar. My eyes darted around the seemingly never-ending hallway, shying away from the stares of strangers.
It gets blurry after that. We continued to sit together, and she still invited me to hang out with her on break. But somewhere between those awkward exchanges, we became friends.
I still remember the first time she invited me over to her house. I was so excited that day, not only for the fun we were going to have, but because it meant we were real friends, the kind that have sleepovers and tell each other secrets. I always laugh when I think of the first time she directed me to her house:
“It’s the last house on the street, the one with the dead flowers hanging from the stick.”
From there, things only got better. We spent every weekend together, riding our bikes around town and pretending to camp out in my backyard.
It’s been 12 years since that first day of school. We don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like; I live in Fredericton and she goes to school in Charlottetown. But on those special days that we do get to spend together, it’s like we were never apart.
I first made this pizza dough recipe last spring, when I was visiting Ashleigh at her apartment for a week. Ashleigh is incredibly cheap, so rather than go out to eat most days, we scrounged around her kitchen for food. We made this pizza dough recipe, and since she’s a vehement vegetarian, topped it with cheddar cheese, spinach and feta. I make this recipe almost every weekend as an alternative to delivery, switching back and forth between pepperoni and this vegetarian option. It’s much cheaper to make, and it really does taste better.
large mixing bowl
2 1/ 2 cups flour
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2-3 tablespoons pizza sauce
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1-2 cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 cup fresh spinach
Preheat over to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of flour, water, and yeast. Mix with a fork. Add sugar, salt and vegetable oil, in this order. Mix well, then add remaining 1 1/2 cups flour. Mix with fork, then knead with your hands until dough forms a firm ball. Sprinkle flour in bottom of bowl, then place dough ball back inside the bowl. Place bowl on the warm stove and cover with a clean tea towel for 10 minutes.
Once dough has risen, roll out on a floured pizza stone into desired shape. Roll over the edges to form a thick crust and pinch crust to bevel the edges.
Top with 2-3 tablespoons pizza sauce and desired toppings.
Dab crust with butter or margarine and cook for 18 minutes or until edges begin to brown.