So, whats 30 odd years between friends?
She and I go back to grade 10, just after I moved up from California. We fell in love with the same boy, whom she won, we shared deep conversations over plates of fries, coffee and Craven M cigarettes at the Dog House restaurant when cutting classes in high school. We loved the same music and the love for writing. We both kept journals. She wrote beautiful poems and songs that she sang with her guitar. We would light candles in her room and delve into the meaning of relationships, spirituality, parents, and becoming women. Oh the drama we imagined in our teenaged world.
We were like sisters. We were best friends.
But I lost her after high school. I say I lost her because I don’t remember her leaving grade 12 earlier than the rest of us and moving to Manitoba to attend University. I wasn’t paying attention, she left my life and it seems I didn’t even blink.
Which leaves me to think what kind of friend was I? Am I?
Eight years later after high school I had bumped into her briefly on the street when she moved back to Vancouver Island. She was married and pregnant with her first, and I was a single parent with a five year old. I was awkward – I was in a confused, unsettled place at the time- and although we were happy to see each other no plans were made to get together then, and we circled out of each others lives once more.
After several more years passed I began to think of her, wanted to see if I could find her again but because of my lame inattention I couldn’t remember her married last name. So I searched FB using her maiden name – maybe she kept it- but nothing appeared. I searched our common FB friends from high school to see if she came up, not there either.
Fly ahead to 2015 I am sitting in my hairdressers chair while my colour is processing, and looking through my Facebook. The list of “people you may know” came up which I lazily scrolled through and suddenly there she was! I “friended” her immediately and anxiously awaited for her to respond, which she soon did.
We were so happy to reconnect!
Finally, we exchanged phone numbers, and talking with her I discovered she had been working for the past 8 years a mere 3 blocks away from the waterfront harbour I crossed over to each day in my boat on my way to work, but she was living south island about 40 minutes out of town.
Well. But how were we to know? She had lost track of me too.
So close but so far. She had been on FB for a year but kept a very low profile, not reaching out to our mutual high school friends until 2015. She didn’t know my married name either.
We’ve gotten together 4 times for lunch since our reconnection, bringing each other up through the missing years. That boy she loved in grade 10 nearly evolved to marriage after high school but ended with broken hearts.
And the thought that needled me and wouldn’t lie still was, I wasn’t there for you. Not for your marriage, the birth of your son, the loss of your parents, whom I remember, the heartbreak of your divorce or your breakthroughs and accomlishments. We lost out on so much by losing each other.
This isn’t the first time I’ve let friendships from my past slip away, and most sadly some of those friendships can never be rekindled in my life again, finding out too late that illness had taken them.
That’s how much I suck at friendship. But I will strive to do better.
She and I found after all this time, all this life growth, that we still have that common ground for the unconventional, the penchant for discussion on the deep, big questions, only now from the perspective approached from experience and maturity. In fact I have since realized she is the only one I can have conversations of that nature with.
So now when we get together we engineer a bridge each time, attentive to bringing to the table the necessary tools to construct a way to cross the rushing waters that have carved between our lives. To meet in the middle and maybe, with the blessings of those two 16 year old girls, continue to walk a new road together now as women.