Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Evolution of Friendship

When I was a small child, my family lived in a trailer park in Inver Grove Heights.  It was there, amidst my humble surroundings, that I met my best friend Amy who lived two trailers down from me.  From the age of two, we became inseparable.  Through random photos and a slightly hazy memory, I can recall the two of us playing "whale" in a little pool in my yard.  We spent hours in the sandbox, took trips to the beach with Amy's mom, who served as my daycare provider for a while, and cheered our dads on as they totaled cars in the occasional demolition derby.  We went to our first Sunday School class together, and played in the back of my dad's van (black '70's version).  Life in the trailer park was simple, and so was our friendship.  We shared dolls and other toys and most of all, giggles.

Just before Kindergarten, my parents built a new house and we moved to Apple Valley.  Around this same time, Amy's family moved to Cottage Grove.  Though separated by a river, our friendship remained very much intact and we were fortunate that our parents were also such good friends. We had many sleepovers and our families took us camping frequently in the summertime.  We looked a lot alike throughout grade school and were mistaken for sisters on a regular basis, which is an occurrence that delighted us to no end.  One such instance was in Sunday School, when we were supposed to memorize and recite the books of the Bible.  I had no problem with this assignment, but my biblically challenged friend Amy did.  So one Sunday she happened to be absent, and I did what any best friend and look-alike would do...I pretended I was Amy for the day.  The teacher was none-the-wiser and I recited the books of the Bible so Amy could get the credit.  I'm not sure God was amused at the fib, but I'm sure He could appreciate the loyalty I showed to my best friend.

My parents divorced when I was nine and even though the dynamics of our parents' friendships changed, our moms remained very good friends and my friendship with Amy did not falter a bit.  My mom's new marriage eventually took us to Afton, where I spent my junior high years, but with Amy still in Cottage Grove, we saw each other often.  My favorite activity during these years was our "modeling" sessions.  We would try on every outfit in our closets and take pictures on our old flashbulb cameras.  Unlike the modern days of digital cameras and Facebook uploads, we then had to wait for a mom to take the film in and get it developed for us, but the results were always hilarious.  Since we attended different schools, we continued the sleepovers and started keeping notebook journals where we would write notes back and forth to each other.  I still have these notebooks and they are more entertaining than any reality show on tv.

Our time in Afton was short-lived for several different reasons, and just before 10th grade, we moved to Cottage Grove and I couldn't have been more excited to attend high school with Amy.  In reading our notebooks, I can now tell there was some tension there at first, as I believe Amy was a little nervous about my coming into her "turf" and making friends, and I was nervous about whether I would fit in.  But as soon as school started, it became quickly obvious that, even though we were soul sisters to the very core, our high school careers took us in different directions.  Though we had a couple friends in common, we ran in completely different crowds.  None of that mattered, though, because Amy was still the one in whom I confided every secret and she was still the one I would choose to spend a Friday or Saturday night with, whenever we had the chance.  There were crushes and dates and eventually boyfriends that gave us plenty to talk about.  I remember when she and one studly football player and upper classman broke up after several months of dating.  I made sure to glare at him and give him dirty looks when I cheered at the football game the next Friday night.  I mean, what are best friends for, right?  As most chums do, we also traded clothes, gave each other nicknames in high school and had many wacky adventures, one of which took us up north to a rented trailer at Lake of the Woods for a week by ourselves.  And we spent a lot of time perfecting the art of making our bangs stand up as tall as possible amongst our thickly permed, but perfectly styled hair.

We had fights, too.  I didn't always agree with her choices, nor she mine.  And there may have been a particular guy that I dated that she really liked, which I admit now was a very selfish thing for me to do.  Thank God Amy was the forgiving type of friend.  We made it through those years and when it was time for college, I watched her leave town to go live in a dorm on campus at Southwest State while I decided to stay at home and attend community college until I could figure out what the heck I wanted to do with my life.  During our college years, we didn't see each other quite as often, but made sure we hit a GB Leighton concert whenever we could.  Then Amy left her school down south to attend Hamline, which was awesome, and allowed us to hang out a little more.  There were some more boyfriends and personal struggles for each of us during those years, so our friendship continued to be one of support and encouragement.

We each met our husbands around the same time and as our relationships with them deepened, our own wild excursions grew fewer.  Our talks now were more about settling down and getting married and buying houses.  What our friendship offered during these years was an occasional night out for some girl time or an ear to listen when we were having difficulties with our then-boyfriends, and most of all, when the time came, to serve as the absolute best maids of honor for each other in our respective weddings. 

We went on to have babies around the same time and, because of the demands of marriage and motherhood, and because we live in completely opposite ends of the cities, for several years we only made time to see each other a couple times a year. During this time, we often lent an ear via telephone for the exchange of parenting tips, or to share cute kid stories.  Again, we were just there to lend support whenever the other needed it.

Fast forward several years, and Amy and I just attended our 20-year high school reunion.  Amy didn't share my love for school back in the day, but with the help of a couple other of her besties, we got her to attend the reunion and she stayed much longer than expected.  And I do have to say, the woman looks amazing!  I am so glad that our friendship has stood the test of time.  Whatever life throws at us, I know we will always be there for each other, regardless of the geographical distance that separates us.  The ups-and-downs of marriage and parenthood, work stress and everything else in between, are the things that continue to tie us closer together.