I’ve heard it said that friends are the gifts we give ourselves – and I’ve been lucky enough to have given myself a few treasures along the way. Mostly though, it’s been my good fortune just to have been included in a group of friends, either by circumstance or through shared interests. After all, introverts such as myself aren’t generally known for their overt sociability. Friendships that start slowly and develop over time are my style.
So I want to tell you about one special group of friends I have that fits that description entirely. We are a group of women who came to know each other at various times in our early school years. Some of us went to elementary school together, some first met in junior high school, and maybe a couple of us not until high school. We remember all the same teachers (Mrs. Lubbers, Mr. York, Mrs. Withey, and Mr. Woolston, to name a few). We shared experiences like marching band, intramural basketball, proms, first jobs (Hitchen’s Drugstore 🙂 ) and hanging out with the same group of pretty-great-for-being-teen-age guys. We took the same 4 years of math and english classes together, cooked our first – I’m sure – turkey dinner together, misappropriated roadblock sawhorses and shopping carts for after dark pranks, and survived assorted other teen-age misadventures. Following high school everyone went their separate ways – to college, travel, jobs, marriage and families.
Years passed with sporadic contact among us but that thread of connection always remained. One of the group, Marcia, became something of a touchstone. She could be counted on to relay information and to organize small gatherings as timing and situations allowed (like for Lori’s yearly visits home from Colorado). Sadly, funerals for family members would also become reasons for us to get together… but happier occasions, like high school reunions were in the mix too.
This year marks our 40th high school reunion and planning for a party is in the works for Holt High School’s class of 1977. It will be a time to reconnect with lots of former classmates and friends. For my special group of gals (and guys!) the reconnection has been happening and deepening for a couple of years now. Somehow, it has become more important to find and make time for each other. Our shared early years, our history, is guiding us into these later years of life with friendships that have stood the test of time.
Recently, a text message came through my phone accompanied by that pencil drawing from so many years ago. Marcia was the sender and I’m going include her message here along with some of the responses that quickly followed one after another:
…stumbled upon this. Warms my heart to still feel the same about you all 40 years later! (Marcia)
I love that picture and still have mine! (Lori)
Me, too! (Tina)
Wow does that bring back memories. (Lou)
Wow. I don’t know how I got in that group of cool kids…ok, I hear those wisecracks! that’s enough! (Gwen)
I have mine too. I could never give it up. (Lori B.)
We really haven’t changed much, have we? Or, perhaps pencil is just kind to us! (Tracey)
Of all the many places and reasons to find gratitude in my life, I know that within this group I find one of the best. Somewhere, in someone’s school yearbook, these words must surely be written, “Friends Forever”.