November 08, 2009

Girlhood friends

Like many of you, I have lost touch with one of the girls who stood up in my wedding. I have no contact with the girl who wore the other half of my best friend necklace in the fifth grade. I haven't talked to some of my college roommates in years.

But there is a remnant, a precious few friends from my past, who remain a constant in my life. They knew me when I had braces and freeze-dried bangs. They stumbled along beside me through the torrent of adolescence, holding each other up when it was too hard to keep going.

I am convinced that two things cement girlfriends together forever: The Holy Spirit, and/or training bras.

Two of such friends are Kathy and Emily. Kathy (pictured here with me on the beach our senior year of highschool) was in my seventh grade science class. She was the coolest girl in school. I, of course, knew who she was and was frankly shocked that she was speaking to me. As it turned out, the dimpled and beautiful Kathy, who could play the piano and sing and act and play sports and wiz through advanced classes, was also the most genuine and kindhearted friend a girl could have. She was nice to everyone, cool or not, and for whatever reason, she liked me.

Emily (pictured here with me in her parents' kitchen our senior year of high school) was the star balance beamer on the gymnastics team, all six feet of her, and when I met her she was still a gangly, goofy kid, all knees and elbows. She was the girl who everyone loved. No one has ever said a bad word about Emily. She and I were quite a pair, and we stayed glued at the hip all through the last two years of high school.

That is not say that they, nor I, have always been perfect, nor have our friendships enjoyed a completely smooth ride. In 9th grade they signed their names (along with all of the other girls in school) at the bottom of a hate letter, addressed to me, after I committed the ultimate teen girl blunder...stealing another girl's guy (which was an accident, I assure you, but that is a whole other story). But as the years have carried us on, our bonds have stood the test of time. Whatever the preservative is, these two friendships, and others like them, have not expired, and I know now that they never will.

Just this week, I recieved a care package from Kathy. In it were books and magazines (English reading material is scarce here), candy and snacks, a hand-written letter (somewhat of a rarity these days, unfortunately, which makes them highly valuable), a beautiful birthday sweater (which I am wearing at the moment, in fact), a lovely journal which beckons my thoughts, country music, Christmas music, nastalgic photographs, recent pictures from Emily's wedding, and many more goodies. Kathy and Emily are two of my most faithful care-package senders. Here we are, nearly 20 years after we first met, and half a world apart, and our friendships are perhaps stronger than they have ever been. What a wonder.

So here is to friends - real friends - lifelong friends - and all the greatness that comes along with them. I love you, Kath and Em. Thanks for the laughs and the love and the years. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.