this is how it all began

I was 18, spending yet another summer in Africa. Bonnie and I were tent mates---a Georgia Peach and a Long Islander, sharing the tight confines of a two-man tent. Amid the cramped quarters and rough conditions of rural Botswana, we became fast friends.

Our sleeping bags and suitcases pretty much filled the tent. Rice Krispie Treats, Fruit by the Foot, and M&M's abounded. (I am the queen of snacks!) Laughter hovered like a thick cloud, filling every small bit of space that remained. Bonnie makes the funniest faces and, even now, just thinking of her impersonation of a wide-mouth frog makes me laugh. Many, many good times were shared together in and out of our humble abode.

"So what's Bonnie short for?" I asked one day as we sat in our snack-filled tent.

"What do you mean?"

"I've never met someone named Bonnie before, so I have no clue what your full name might be."

She stated to laugh. "It's not short for anything. My name's just Bonnie."

"Really?" I asked incredulously.

"Yes! What would it be short for?" she challenged.

"I don't know..." I sat and pondered a moment. "Bonilda?!"

Bonnie doubled over laughing, tears streaming out of her eyes. I shrugged and laughed with her.

And to me, she's been Bonilda ever since.