First of all, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything, I know. Once school starts my life belongs to my family and students and I don’t regret that. Finally, I’ve found some time for me and something I want to write about.
It’s been over 15 years since I graduated high school, which means time has edged off most pain and heartbreak and heightened the fun and camaraderie I had. Recently, I have had the pleasure of meeting up with four of my best friends from high school and self-reflection began.
When I started college everyone told me I would make my friends from high school would fade away and college friends would be my friends for life. I didn’t believe them then and time has proven me correct. I won’t dwell on the fact that my only lasting close friendship from college was Wole, but I will delve into why the five of us are still able to get together and feel just as loving and connected as always.
We were originally joined by our shared band dorkdom. Band was a full time commitment in high school with Friday football games, Saturday competitions, during school practice, before school practice, and after school practice. Our days were full of each other, but if that had been it the friendships would have died as the band experience went away. No we also sought each other out during all our free time and that is what still seals us together. We all were pretty clean cut kids that enjoyed hanging out to see movies, play games (like poker for candy), and talk about what we thought were the all-important subjects that faced us at the time. More importantly, I think we all taught each other something, whether about the world or ourselves. I know each of the four influenced me.
Melanie was almost always full of giggles, a little devious, and would dance in the middle of a fast food place with a straight face. I never could feel too down while she was around and learned to break the rules just a little every now and then. I also learned much later that she had dealt with parents who had a substance abuse problem bad enough to where she couldn’t come home at times. She still kept her head up and has been successful in her career and life. She has definitely taught me not to dwell on the bad in life.
Jenny came to us late in the game, about half-way through freshman year. She was beautiful and quiet and got impeccable grades. She always had a great love of family, a sweet demeanor, and was easy going. She was the first of us to get married and have a baby and seemed to thrive in all of it. Jenny taught me that families can be close and to be a more calm person.
Julie and I had a special bond that began in junior high days. Both of us had high strung, somewhat manipulative mothers that stressed us out and made us mature before our time. We handled the stress together, sometimes crying it out, but most often making fun of our situations until we were in pain from laughing. Julie and I were smart enough to treasure our friendship (I still have a box full of notes, mementos, and pictures) and even though we have drifted some and don’t see each other as often as I’d like, when we get together it feels like no time has passed. Julie’s personality is just as big and wonderful as always and being around her still just makes me feel better. She taught me that family isn’t always blood and how to be a friend.
I have saved Logan for last, because he has taught me the most. Logan is the friend that chose us, at first choosing to spend time with us over his girlfriend. He was aware of our cares and feelings and not afraid to share his with us. When we started working together my junior year we became closer, as he and his mother became more of my caregivers. His house was always the place for us to gather, because it was clean and inviting and his mother was warm and caring. We’d watch movies and sometime Julie and I even narrated player guides while Logan played video games. He was our designated dancer for all the dances and made us all feel cared about. Of course we were all in love with him. There had been talk, but my senior year people started to confirm Logan was gay. I had been raised very conservative and had been vocal about that not being okay, particularly for our Logan. When he finally talked to me about it and told me I was the one he was most scared to tell, because he thought I would no longer be his friend, I felt like the worst person on earth. How could I let my friend who had been so wonderful to me think I would ditch him? How could I think of him as less than any other human, when he was one of the best people I knew? From that point forward, judging someone for being gay or in general became a lot harder. Logan made me a more open person and I am forever grateful for that.
I have no idea what if anything, I taught them, but I am grateful to them. We are still friends, because we formed each other and even though we’ve changed here and there we are still the people we helped each other become. I was and am lucky to have them.