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Old Gold

I just got back from visiting my best friend, Stephanie, who lives a few hours away in the pretty mountains of New York. She and I have known each other since we were maybe two or three years old since our moms dragged us into the same playgroup. However, we didn’t really become friends until around our junior year of high school. Sometimes, I become friends with people and I don’t even realize that it’s happening. Other times, I meet someone and I get a little giddy and try to make them be my friend. With Stephanie, I did a little of both. Our junior year, we had some classes together as well as lunch. Since we were both shy little creatures with slight social anxiety, we elected to eat lunch just the two of us in complete separation from our peers. (Sometimes, though, Stephanie would have track or cross country meets and I would end up eating lunch alone. Ah, high school.) That summer, I very bravely called her to hang out. She said yes! So over those summer months, we became actual friends and not just two awkward teens who were inexplicably afraid of being in the cafeteria with other teenagers.

I liked Stephanie because she had a very calm presence and was also incredibly silly. I also liked her because I could be my natural geek self around since we had many geeky things in common. We both loved writing and literature. Our senior year of high school, we got the extra nerdy idea during our English class’ Shakespeare unit to divvy up the parts in Hamlet and read the play out loud together, affirming that we’d absorb it better that way.  Or maybe it was just an excuse to hang out. It’s hard to say.

I do know, though, that she is the first friend that I could have real, true conversations with and the first person that I was ever able to talk about the things I was afraid of or worried about. So when my brother was killed by a drunk driver midway through our senior year, she was the person I wanted to talk to most that day. Stephanie has a natural talent for helping you sort out your thoughts and gently calm you down, and on a day like that, I really needed that. Looking back, we probably didn’t know each other that well yet, but she was there for me without hesitation.

After high school, Stephanie and I went all over the country, and she also spent two different periods on other continents. But we stayed friends. And more surprisingly, we stayed close friends. The period of age 18-22 is pretty weird, and we both went through our separate periods of intense weirdness. Somehow though, no matter how we changed or how many miles were between us, I don’t ever think we felt less close, or that the friendship was fading away even if we didn’t talk for six months at a time.

During this past visit with Stephanie, I realized that she is maybe a little more than my best friend. She’s someone I admire the hell out of. Stephanie is the mother of two little girls, one three year-old and one tiny little eight week old. I’m not only blown away by the fact that during her last pregnancy, she also picked up a second Master’s degree, but I was overwhelmed (in the good way) by what an amazing family she and her boyfriend have created. You know how single people complain about their friends who have kids–they never go out, they never can do anything, they always use the kids as an excuse to say no to things, blah blah blah. Stephanie and her boyfriend still do pretty much all the same things that they did before.  They go out to eat. They hang out with friends. They go on hikes. They travel. Their daughters just come along with them. Sure, they’re not going on to smokey bars until two in the morning, but they’re certainly not limiting themselves or their children to the house and the playground. I’ve never really known any parents quite like Stephanie and her boyfriend and they made me much less afraid of having a family one day myself.

Seeing Stephanie as mom and thinking about how much we (or at least she) have grown up over the years made me remember all the things she’s done so far in her life. Although she admittedly can be overly-anxious and nervous, she takes so many risks. Semester abroad in Kenya? Why not. AmeriCorps in Alaska? Sure. Go teach English in Vietnam? Of course. So many of us get ideas or have dreams about the things we’d like to do, but we’re too afraid to be uncomfortable or have things turn out badly. Or some us may set a plan for ourselves so rigid that we never let ourselves deviate from that path and be open to a new experience. But not Stephanie. I know I’m not her mom or anything, but I can’t help but feel proud of her. This last visit makes me want to try extra hard to be as good of a friend to her as she’s been to me, and it also makes me excited to think that there is so much more ahead of us.

 

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Categories: Childhood, Friends, Life
  1. Susan
    June 30, 2011 at 11:24

    I’ve heard of Stephanie, and seen pictures of her and her family, but know nothing about her – you’ve fleshed out the person and given a glimpse into her history with you and her personality and her family. You write so well! I’ve been enjoying your blog very much.

    • July 1, 2011 at 13:39

      Thanks, Mrs. Martin. I think you are one of my four loyal followers!

  1. October 8, 2012 at 12:06

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