Good Wednesday morning!
I’ve been M.I.A. again – for some very cool reasons. Mainly, though, this past week I’ve been lucky enough to spend my time nourishing a 20-year-old friendship. How cool is that?!
Growing up military-style has some perks, and some non-perks. One perk, moving around and getting to see other parts of the country and meet new people. A non-perk, moving around and always having to find your place with new people. Yes, the pros and the cons are so closely related that it’s hard to differentiate sometimes – especially if you’re in your teenage years when it seems like high school could very possibly be the real world.
Moving around was pretty cool until about middle school. Then, you know, kids start to get nasty and you’ve got to sort through all of that drama.
Imagine my delight when I moved from the coast of Massachusetts (where I had been for five years) to the coast of Oregon the summer before my freshman year in high school. (Sarcasm!)
I can still remember Moose’s (my mom) face as our family arrived into town. She actually looked depressed! (And to this day refuses to ever visit the area again!) Ha, ha!
Anyway, I’m off-track. The tiny, little beach town that we moved to consisted of about 2,500 people at that time, if memory serves me. It was small. Everyone who lived there was pretty much born there and had gone to school together since kindergarten. Except for yours truly. I had to find a way to mingle.
Enter JC, a slight, “preppy,” 14-year-old with way too much makeup (remember, I was a matronly teenager who was obviously a little judgey, too!) and expensive Doc Martens.
To be fair, I wore flip-flops or Birkenstocks and my dad’s old wool sweater from high school almost daily. (I was rockin’ it, though — in my head.)
I still don’t know how we started talking, but we did. And she was funny. Very funny.
We began a friendship that would be solid for almost two years, which is a long time at that age, especially for me. We were both extremely regulated by our parents and spent most of our time walking on the beach or down long, country roads. Basically, from the outside looking in, from a teen’s point of view, we were seriously and serially lame. Very, very lame.
All was well until JC wanted to spread her wings a little. I think she just wanted to hang out and have fun – more fun than walking those country roads and bumping her gums!
The crowd she chose was a little scary for me, Miss Goodie Two Shoes; so we parted ways. That was around 1996.
The downside of military life for a child is that your relationships are all formed in segments. You have friends from elementary school, you move away; you have another set of friends from middle school, you move away. There are really no true friendships where you experience all of the normal changes of adolescence from, say, elementary school to adulthood. It’s just different than growing up in the same town all of your life. That’s not to say that one way is better than the other; it is just that, different.
So JC and I don’t talk for years. Literally, years. Then, on one of Matt and my regular family visits to the west coast, I decide to call JC’s mom and check in on her. She fills me in on JC’s life for the last five years and says we should really get together. We ended up meeting for lunch one night and had a nice conversation, but nothing much beyond that.
And then last summer, on our family vacation, JC and I got in touch again. I really wanted her to meet our family. It was really cool to me that she had grown up with Matt since pre-school, known me since high school, and would now meet our children. She drove 3.5 hours each way to meet us for lunch. Her effort to see us did not go unnoticed.
On that day, Matt pretended to be Father of the Year (sorry, Honey, I can’t help it!) and played with the kids while I sat my behind on a park bench with my feet resting in fountain water chatting it up with JC. It was just like it was all those years ago. After about an hour, she said she wanted to come visit us in Pennsylvania.
People say a lot of things, and normally I am the believe-it-when-I-see-it type; but I knew she was serious. And she was!
Having met her last summer, the kids were so excited about her visit this spring.
After all these years of not being in contact, we discovered that we both have lots of things in common: ridiculous allergies; are interested in homesteading, chicken-keeping, essential oils, natural medicine, gardening, healthy eating, etc.
Essentially, the only thing that time has changed for us is the prominence and placement of some wrinkles and a slight increase of our wackiness. All good things.
We’ve lived different lives, and lots of time has gone by; but we’re together again, and I couldn’t be happier!
See you next summer, JC! If you’re reading this, I solemnly promise to make good on my word of getting you to Atlantic City to see a real, live GTL’d, fist-pumper!