I will be the first to admit that I am terrible at keeping in touch with people. I’ve always sort of known this about myself, but it was confirmed recently when my high school class formed a group on Facebook for our 10 year reunion this summer. Of the 100 and something people in that group, I recognized maybe a handful of names. And of that handful of names, I had kept in touch with maybe two of them. And by “kept in touch,” I mean we occasionally chat on Facebook.
It’s not that I didn’t love high school. I actually loved it. I went to one of those picture-perfect beach community high schools where everyone is tan, the trucks in the parking lot are full of surf boards, and the biggest problem we had in school was marywanna. Of course, that’s a pretty broad generalization. But the point is that it was a good school. A great school. And I had a blast, due largely in part to these two ladies:
The one on the far left is my oldest friend, Sarah. We met in 6th grade when she was seated behind me in Social Studies. We’ve been friends ever since and I think of all the friendships I’ve had in my life, Sarah’s has been the most real. We haven’t always been close, but we’ve always been real and honest with each other. More so than any other friendships I’ve ever had. In college, Sarah and I lived together for a year and it just about ruined our friendship. Years later after the patch had been healed and we had happily moved onward and upward with our friendship, I would realize that the fault in that situation had been mine. Sarah was the first friend I’d had who moved on to a different phase in her life before me and so it was the first time I had to learn that being friends with someone whose life mirrors your own is easy. It’s standing by that friendship when you’re experiencing different things that makes a friendship valuable. Sarah’s friendship taught me that and through that lesson, our friendship became stronger over the years.
When I moved to Connecticut, we grew further apart, mostly by proximity. It was hard to share those day-to-day experiences then, but we kept in touch and she continued to be a central, grounding presence in my life. I never would have thought that one day, we’d end up living 15 minutes apart from each other again and teaching across the hall from each other, but my move to Orlando brought that incredible blessing to my life. Sarah and her husband, Scott, live in Orlando and when we moved here they opened their lives up to us. They introduced us to their friends, showed us around town, helped us move, and it was actually Sarah who got me the teaching job I now have. It has been such an unexpected and wonderful blessing to reconnect, regrow, and refresh my friendship with Sarah over the past 10 months.
Caitlin, in the middle, was part of our group of friends in high school, too. Like Chris and I, Caitlin and her boyfriend, Tim, would go on to become married, high school sweethearts. Looking back, if you showed me a picture of the four of us and told me that we’d both end up marrying those boys, I would have died laughing. So would Cait. But, twelve years later, both Caitlin and I are getting ready to celebrate our six year anniversaries with our high school sweetheart husbands and I don’t think either of us would have it any other way. Fate is funny like that, isn’t it?
I think it’s actually our marriages that have kept Caitlin and I such good friends over the years. She married as young as I did during a time when none of our friends were married and that bonded us in a way that nothing else could have. We understood what each other was going through in those first really hard years of marriage. I distinctly remember the first year we were both away from our families at either Christmas or Thanksgiving, I can’t remember which. None of my other friends would have understood how hard it was to learn the fine art of learning to enjoy holiday with your in-laws at such a young age, but Cait called me that day and though we didn’t go into the nitty gritty details because both our in-laws were close by, we comforted each other by knowing that what we were going through was normal and even good. Our marriages look very different. Our lives look very different. But our commitment to our husbands and to our families and to finding time for our own passions and pursuits in the middle of that commitment binds us together.
Caitlin came in town this weekend to visit me and Sarah and her college friend, Elyssa (right), who also happens to live in Orlando. We spent the weekend shopping and eating and watching Eat, Pray, Love, like only girlfriends could do. Bean hung out with us because Chris was working and it was so much fun to see my oldest friends playing with him. Bean kept the man-love real by bringing along his most masculine toys. Though that didn’t stop me from holding pink dresses up to him for size comparisons while we shopped…
But by the time we took some pictures late in the afternoon, Bean was over the girls weekend. I literally had to step on him to keep him from running off.
With any other friends, I would have apologized for my wild, active, headstrong child that day. But not to those girls. When you’ve been through as much as we have for as many years as we have…well…crying babies aren’t the worst we’ve endured together.
Today I am grateful that I know what true friendship means because of Sarah and Caitlin.