I’ve been reminiscing about those good old days of high school lately. Maybe it’s getting back in touch with old and dear friends, maybe it’s receiving that ten year reunion invitation, maybe it’s coming across this jackpot of memories while cleaning up photo boxes (I hope you friends don’t mind me sharing a few!), maybe it’s my first child finishing his first year of elementary school. Regardless, in all my reminiscing I have come to realize a few things. I’ve realized that so much can change in ten years! College, weddings, kids, careers, travels… It almost feels like a lifetime ago. On the other hand, it hit me this week that time goes so fast. While so much has changed, I can’t believe a decade has gone by since those care-free days in that small town. But more than anything I’ve realized that good friends are hard to find, even harder to leave, and impossible to forget.
Last night as my husband and I were getting ready for bed I was enlightening him on my life back then. I was in the middle of telling him about how for fun my friends and I would go to Goodwill and have fashion shows with the most ridiculous, outlandish dresses and outfits we could find when my dear husband–national science olympiad champ, valedictorian, Star Wars and Lego fan–interrupted. “…Man, you guys were dorky! You think I was the geek? I would have been WAY too cool for you!” I was shocked. “Us? DORKY? Never! We were so cool!” But the more I thought about it, I realized that maybe, just maybe, he was right (isn’t there a movie about that?). We may have been nerds, but we sure had fun! And honestly, looking back, what does it matter if we were dorky or cool?
Ten years have passed since we posed in our fashionable Goodwill attire for the camera, had a sleepover on the trampoline, passed notes in Spanish class, or serenaded our coaches with our goofy songs on long rides home from soccer games. Ten years since we ate lunch under that tree in the commons area, laughed at our inside jokes, sang karaoke together, went on bike rides, saved seats for each other at an assembly, did each other’s hair before prom, or exercised to “Sweating to the Oldies” with Richard Simmons (which is, of course, how all of the cool kids spend their Friday nights, right??). But ten years have not made us forget. I’m sure not one of us have forgotten how we stood up for each other. How we supported each other in our various activities. How we all had different beliefs, different hopes and dreams, different talents and abilities, came from different backgrounds, had different values. But that didn’t matter. We respected each other. If it mattered to one of us, it mattered to all of us, because that’s what friends do. They care. They never made me feel silly or left out for things I chose to or not to do. They respected my decisions and never pressured me to compromise my standards. We lifted each other up, helped each other realize and reach our goals. We haven’t forgotten how how we celebrated each other’s achievements and comforted each other in our failures, disasters, and disappointments.
It really doesn’t matter if we were the coolest or dorkiest high schoolers ever. What matters is that we were friends. And that friendship helped shape all of us into the people we are today. Teachers, mothers, fathers, scientists, physical therapists, entertainers, hospital staff, engineers, independent thinkers, leaders, service men and women, secret agents, missionaries, nannies, spouses, believers, friends. I owe so much to that group of girls (and guys). We don’t see each other often. We don’t talk on the phone or exchange letters like maybe we should. But the memories we share are worth gold. And when I need them, no matter how many years pass, I know they will always be there to help, no matter what.
I hope my little boys will have the opportunity to make friends like the ones I was fortunate to know through those good old days of elementary on up to high school. Friends that can lift them up, help them realize what amazing people they truly are, and support them in their goals and beliefs. I hope they realize that it really doesn’t matter if they follow the cool crowd or if they and all their friends are four-eyed, metal-mouthed, freckle-faced geeks. I hope that they can seek out those that encourage them to be better people, and be that friend in return. Because I know now from experience that when they look back, they will discover that they owe a great deal of who they are to the friends they had then. I hope they hang on to those friendships. No matter how far the distance, no matter what path life takes them down, no matter how many years pass.
Because good friends are hard to find, even harder to leave, and impossible to forget.