Do you ever think about your childhood friends? I did today. This is what I remember...
When I was seven years old, my best friend was a somewhat neglected child, although I didn't see her that way. I envied her because she was free to do things my parents wouldn't allow me to do. (Ride a bus by herself, cross a busy street, buy her own lunch from the diner.) She had a wealth of knowledge that made my head spin. Most of it was slightly seedy adult stuff that she must have overheard somewhere. I don't think either of us understood half of what she thought she knew, and I'm sure a lot of it wasn't true. But that didn't keep me from believing her, and thinking she was the smartest and most exciting seven-year-old ever.
We went to the same school, but were always in different classes and had different friends. As we got older we didn't see each other much. When she was sixteen, she dropped out of school. By then we were so far apart that I didn't realize she was gone until months later. I don't know what became of her, but I hope she's well. She was a scrappy little kid who deserved better than she got.
When I was in sixth grade, I had a very good friend. Our friendship started when we both got the giggles in class for absolutely no reason. I hadn't known her well before that. But after that silly giggle session, we became the closest of friends. I was at her house almost every day. We laughed, we made up stories, we danced. She invited me to go to summer camp with her, and have Sunday dinner with her family.
But then we became teenagers. She was very pretty, and almost overnight she developed a mature body. I was still stick straight and skinny. Boys noticed her, and before I knew it she had a steady boyfriend. She tried to include me, but it wasn't the same anymore. I pulled away.
Her family moved out of state toward the end of high school. But years later I came across her new address and contacted her. She came to see me during a visit home. She was as nice as ever. We reminisced, but we didn't resume our friendship. It was OK. It was enough just to see her again.
When I was in 10th grade, a new girl moved to our small suburban town from New York City. She was different from anyone I had every known. Not only was she a city girl, she was Jewish. She was smart, funny, warm, open, outspoken, free-thinking, and amazing. She had a bit of a hard time in our school because she was one of only two Jewish kids in the school. But she was my best friend. I loved her.
Life got much better for her when she went away to college. She wasn't the only Jewish student, and she was appreciated for who she was. She graduated college, married, had twin girls, and shortly after their birth tragically committed suicide during a postpartum depression. My heart broke when I heard the news. I couldn't believe she was gone. She had so much more to offer the world.
So, those were my dearest childhood friends. I don't know if I chose them, or they chose me. I do know that I felt happy and free when I was with them. And I always felt brave when one of them was at my side.
I hope I haven't written too much. I'd love to hear about your childhood friends...
I've thought of my childhood friends often over the years. My most recent memory was 30 year reunion planning via FB.
Most of us grew up in the neighborhood / parish in Kansas City, so small-town compared to your childhood.
During a trip to meet up regarding the planning I found several things I could no longer deal with (and so did not continue with planning or attend).
First and foremost, several male childhood friends, married to other childhood friends, seemed more interested in other things than the reunion.
Those male childhood friends sat on the same bar stools as when I left KC with my own family 20 years earlier.
The female childhood friends either mimicked Peg Bundy, or were totally sad and deprived of their own selves.
As a side trip, we took our daughters to family reunion at the Lake of the Ozarks; my favorite childhood weekend spot, where the family owned properties around a cove. During the first night, the youngest (6 or 7) whispered in my ear "Mommy, what is wrong with these people?" This was due to racist, sexist discussions around the campfire.
So, Pat, I think since the time I wondered and tried to get back involved with childhood friends, I found that not to be what I am or have been since leaving that; thank goodness.
I imagine them sitting around the bar without face cover and/or marching for "open America" against all health science advice...
#VegasStrong Phil Harris, actor and showman, to John Fogerty of CCR: “If I’d known I’d live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”