Friday, February 3, 2012

Nostaglic BFFs

Three people crossed my mind last night and I wanted to share a little bit of them with you.

VA is the first friend I can remember making.  We met in Kindergarten at Tuckahoe Elementary School.  I think we had different teachers but somehow we managed to collide spectacularly.  When we were young we looked so much alike the adults in our lives seemed to have a hard time keeping us straight, always mistaking one for the other.

She didn't live very far away from me and I vaguely recall the first time being invited over to her house.  It was the first friend-invitation I can remember, period, and it thrilled me.  From then on we were two peas from a pod.  We shared our families as extensions of our own and spent many an afternoon, night and weekend at each others homes.  Our time was spent climbing trees, walking the neighborhood, making slurpee trips to 7-11, having sleepovers, playing with horses, pretending to ride horses, dallying at her ping pong or pool table, making scrumptious delicacies with some flat rocks and dandelion buds, and pinching each other when we got in epic arguments about stupid things.  No matter what the circumstances or how many other people we each met she was always my very best friend.

Years later VA lives in Boston, is brilliant and runs in marathons.  I live in Virginia, am busy and run in a manner that may appear to outsiders as if I am dying.  She is blue-eyed, blonde and pixie-like in her petiteness (I mean that in the most awesome way possible) while I am brown-eyed, a bottle-ginger and... curvy.  So, less like the twins we were when we met.

Even though our friendship now isn't the same as back then, alternating homes and acting out the intricate and dramatic lives of tiny plastic horses, I grew up loving her as a sister and will grow old loving her the same way.

N and I met at church when we were too young to sit still through Sunday school.  He and the two other boys in our class would inevitably stir up mischief that would capture my rapt attention, I'm sure much to our teacher's annoyance.  To me they were so cool, but N most of all.

We went separate ways for many years until one day he reappeared at youth group.  Those fond Sunday school memories came flooding back and though childhood friendships don't always transition as well to youth ones when there's many years of lack of exposure, I knew we'd be quick friends.

We were practically glued at the hip.

Often I was questioned if we were dating and had to correct people, saying no, we were just best friends.  Sometimes the follow-up question was why not and that was harder for me to answer.  See, N was who I consider to be my first love.  You know, the one that makes your stomach knot up, shoving your heart up into your throat and your skin tingles with perpetual goosebumps.  Or is that just me?  Figures.

Anyway, there was a lot of love.  A lot of friend love, a lot of one-sided more than friend love and I'm sorry for the discomfort that probably caused him, I couldn't help it (though I tried).  Eventually friends and family were able to help me see the doormat I had become in an effort to be Totally Awesome, thinking that is what it would take to prove myself worthy of more-than-friend.  In an attempt to stop feeling so strongly in what became an unhealthy way I wrote a poem for him and submitted it to our literary magazine with his name concealed as the title.  I don't know if he knew it was for him and it was a ridiculously high-school-girly thing to do but it was cathartic.  I still have that poem.  I came out of a deep and it scarred a little on the edges, but in the end I was and will forever be grateful for his friendship and the oodles and oodles of time we spent together that I'll always remember.

Like that one time he was going to drive me home and pretended to drive away and leave me in the parking lot so I threw my hand into his open sunroof and jumped into the window Dukes of Hazard style.  I think it surprised us both.

M was quiet, one of those guys who could hide right in front of your face.  I'd known of him in middle school, his name was familiar, but we never spoke until one fateful year after band camp (and yes, it is taking restraint to not start this story with "And one time...").

Band camp was hot and tiring and lunch was a welcome island of relaxation surrounded by seas of marching, drilling, more marching, correcting formations, sweating, drilling, more sweating and doing it again but BETTER!  One such lunch something in my brain flipped, unprovoked, and all of a sudden I noticed M.  Obviously I'd always noticed he was there, but I mean I started really paying attention to his solitude.  He kept to himself and sat a little way off from the pre-lunch crowd, sometimes with a book.  This intrigued me and I started making it a point to say hi to him.  Much like a dog who is denied its chewtoy I took this as an open invitation to Bark Louder.

Band camp ended and we returned to the Gates of the Under Worl... I mean, another glorious school year.   M's path never seemed to cross as closely as the confines of the doorway outside the camp cafeteria and the band room was a gathering place for barely controlled chaos, making further socialization attempts challenging at best.

My opening into M's armor came in the form of our 3rd quarter break during a home foot ball game.  After every half-time show we would be released until the clock counted down to the beginning of 4th where we could wander aimlessly in our band finery.  One night I noticed M hanging back, again alone, in the upper corner of the stands while everyone else shuffled to the food stand.  I snatched the opportunity and used the low ground to my advantage by strategically pinning him to the corner of the bleachers where he had no escape from my barrage of questioning about his favorite books, movies, hobbies and anything else I could think of.

M was support, and my partner in crime and my homecoming and prom date.  He would borrow his dad's Mazda and we would cruise along the canal with the top down and Bare Naked Ladies blasting as loud as we could stand it.  Once or twice we would (now pay attention, this is where I admit to naughty-doings fully knowing that my mother reads this blog.  Hi Mom!  Earmuffs, please!) skip a period or two at the end of a beautiful day to harness up and repel out of the tree in his back yard (hey, at least there was no diving from the train bridge into the canal, *ahemLauraandDonaldahem*).  Now every time I day dream of repelling it makes me think of M.

M became my very best friend that year and the memories of the amazing year that was for me, so much so because of him, I hope will forever be engrained on me.   I wonder if he ever knew how much he really meant to me, how much I cared about and appreciated him, our friendship.  I hardly realized how strongly I felt and if I didn't know it I can't believe he could have.  One day I hope he does.