Quote Originally Posted by lizmonster View Post
Story structure is a larger question, and I think you can get away with just about anything as long as it's got a hook to make the reader turn the page.

But for this: I'd expect you could find ways via your MC's behavior to show how much her friend means to her without necessarily showing us the two of them together. If the only purpose of the early scenes is to demonstrate a bond, then yeah, I'd expect you could jettison them.

But it's impossible to say without reading. Execution is everything.
I was scrolling through the responses looking to see if someone addressed the OPs stated reason for a slow start. Glad to see LizMonster hit it. For what it's worth, remembered happiness is always more melancholy and idealized than experienced happiness. That's the key to 90% of romantic poetry (i.e. from the literary movement of romanticism, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, etc). You can get quite a bit of mileage out of lost Eden, rather than a direct depiction of edenic existence.