Tag Archives: Friendship

I *do* have friends!

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I *do* have friends!

I was a little worried that people might think I am totally friendless after that last blog.  While that’s not the case, I will say the vast majority of my friends live in far-flung zip codes.  I have Navy friends who live on both coasts and in other countries.  I have two wonderful sisters and a mom who I count as friends–they live in Oklahoma and Texas.  I have friends from my college and high school experiences.  I have friends from my time in Nashville who still live in the BNA (I totally covet their zip codes).

But the friends I want to share with you are the girls I like to call “My Faves”.  All together, there are 10 of us.  We all grew up in the same small Oklahoma town and graduated from the same high school in 1991.  We were all born in 1973 (which means we will ALL turn 40 next year).  We are all moms and wives (some are ex-wives).  For the past six summers, we have come from all over the country to meet in a different location each year for a long kid- & husband-free weekend. This year we will be meeting in Park City, Utah flying in from Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, Colorado, South Carolina, Missouri and California eager to catch up on the happenings in each other’s lives.  While together we’ll shop, re-live old memories, get pedicures, cook together and stay up way too late.  But most of all, we’ll LAUGH!!  Over the last six years we have collectively mourned divorce and tragic death. We have celebrated new babies (The ten of us have a total of 20 kids ranging in age from 3 to 18!), new jobs, and soon we will celebrate the first of our children graduating from high school and moving on to college.  Individually, each one of these women is remarkable–several have backgrounds in education, one is a physical therapist, another is a nurse, another still works in the financial industry, one friend is the Creative Director for a nationally known magazine, a few of us have worked in ministry of some kind, some are full-time moms, others devote their spare time to volunteering and charity. We were not all the best of friends in high school, but I can honestly say now that I don’t know what I would do without their love, support and influence in my life. After yesterday’s sob-blog, I woke up this morning to a text from one of these sweet girls just checking on me.  It made my day!  The funny thing is that part of the reason this group works is that we do get to gather together so infrequently.  Each one of us treasures the time we get to spend together and going on our trip every year is a priority of highest order.  If it happened every Friday we wouldn’t look at it the same way.  So while I miss my faves desperately, I am thankful for our weekends and that I always start to look forward to the next one even before the last one ends.

After our first trip in 2006, I wrote down my thoughts and shared them on MySpace (it was 6 years ago, social networking options were limited, don’t judge me).  I recently rescued my musings about that weekend from the near defunct site and I’d love to share them with you.  Even after 6 years, I still feel the same way…

The more things change, the more they stay the same

June 7, 2006

Whenever I go into a situation where I know I will be seeing people from my past, I always worry about how they will remember me. I haven’t always liked the person I am and I’m sure there are people who feel the same way. I feel like I have grown and changed over the last several years (for the better!), but I know that sometimes other people might not realize that. Well, this past weekend was one of those times.

During the Christmas holiday, I got together with a few friends from high school. This year marked what should have been our 15-year high school reunion, but since there wasn’t an official reunion we decided to have a small one of our own. Over the next few months, we figured out who to invite and where we would go. We decided where we would stay and where we would eat. But truthfully, as the date approached this feeling of dread came over me, and I started wondering if I should go or not. I was just so concerned that the girls–some of whom I hadn’t seen since graduating from good ol’ Po-Hi–wouldn’t understand that I had changed or, even worse, that they wouldn’t like the person I have worked so hard to become. In spite of my minor panic attacks, I decided to go and I am SO glad I did!

What I learned this weekend is that we all had changed in some ways, but in others, we were exactly the same. We have all experienced life, love, heartbreak, motherhood, and so much more, and those experiences affected us in different ways but our lives had been enriched. I (hopefully we) discovered depth in each woman there–physically, emotionally, and spiritually–that we couldn’t have even imagined when we were in high school playing tricks on each other, arguing over boys, and breaking curfew.

I also realized, in many ways, we are still exactly the same. I wouldn’t say we are the same as we were when we graduated in 1991 though. I think we are more like the pre-teenage girls we were when we entered East Junior High in 1985–easy to laugh, not yet self-conscious enough to stop being silly, or spiteful enough to be catty.

We had each found a beautiful balance of self-confidence, humility, joy, and peace with the women we had become, the flaws we recognize in ourselves, and the lives we are living. And in spite of all that growth and change I thought I had experienced, it made me happy to realize that I am still the girl I used to be.

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Making friends…

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Making friends…

We moved to Iowa three years ago.  While there are many things I love about living in this state, there are some things that have been very difficult as well–one of which is making friends.  Iowans are renowned for their friendliness and I wouldn’t disagree with that at all.  There’s never a lack of people who say hello or politely hold a door open.  Iowans are very welcoming.  But Iowans are not terribly inviting.  The relationships I have made here have been very surface and shallow, there’s very little “investing” going on in the few friendships I have.
I think part of the problem is that my frame of reference for friendships is quite skewed.  My husband was an active duty Navy pilot for more than 10 years before he left the service and we moved here.  In my experience, making friends in the Naval community was a breeze.  It went something like this:
Me:  Hi my name is Gina.
Girl:  Hi my name is Amanda.
Me:  You seem really nice.  Not at all like a crazy animal hoarder or a drug addict.
Amanda:  You seem nice too.
Me:  We should totally be BFFs!
New BFF Amanda:  Absolutely!!  Want to come over for Christmas dinner??
Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but honestly not by much.  It might have been that our husbands were all going off to places unknown to fly jets onto aircraft carriers.  It might have been that the Navy life lent itself to the same kind of women signing on for the craziness.  It might have been pure loneliness from not having a single family member within an 800 mile radius.  Whatever it was, the years we spent as a Navy family gave me some of the best friends and best memories a girl could wish for.  Friendships were created with near total abandon and were kept tight until one party or the other proved unworthy.  Those friendships are part of what has made moving here so much more difficult.
In Iowa, I have found that it’s quite the opposite when it comes to making friends.  (Yes, I realize it’s taken me nearly 3 years to learn this.  No one ever accused me of being quick on the uptake.)  Friendship is not automatic.  To call someone your friend means they have earned the honor, over time.  There are several women who I have met and would like to be friends with, but cultivating a new friendship seems to be waaayyy down on their “to do” list.  The women I have met all seem to have very full lives–full of children’s activities, extended family obligations, good friends from high school or college nearby, appointments, and jobs–with no time, energy, or desire for new friends.  As a result, I know and recognize many women, they know and recognize me.  But we are merely acquaintances; nothing more, nothing less.  I’ve found this to be the case at church, in my children’s school and in my neighborhood.
Slowly, very slowly over the past three years some of those acquaintances are beginning to precariously tip into the friendship zone.  Those relationships can’t come soon enough for me.  I’m ready for some real friends.