March 18, 2011

Her name was Kelly.

I think we met in choir at the end of seventh grade. I remember that she had somehow sat on a Twinkie at lunch and her black shorts were covered in some kind of Twinkie paste that no amount of water could get out. Our choir teacher humiliated her about it and she walked out of the choir room and left class. I don't know if she ever got in trouble for doing that, but I admired her bravery in not putting up with Mrs. Hunsucker's cruelness about the whole thing.

I think after that, we became friends who would talk about how much we hated our choir teacher and how awful it was that she had ever sat on a Twinkie. Because who does that happen to?

We were the best of friends in 8th and 9th grade and some into our 10th grade year as well. We watched movies together. We wrote notes to each other in special spiral notebooks that we would give back and forth to each other. We went to the mall on a regular basis. We talked about our crushes that we had on the boys in school. And she was the friend that was with me when my brother died. We tried to figure out death and God and things that were far deeper than our early teenage minds could even begin to comprehend.

Kelly and I got together several years ago right before I got married and reconnected again. I ran into her mom somewhere and she gave me her number and told me to get in touch with her. It felt just like old times and it was fun to see each other as adults - there was years worth of life to be caught up on. At that time, neither of us could remember why we had fallen out of touch in high school - we decided that somehow we had just drifted away perhaps.

Later, I dug into my journals that I saved from teenagehood and learned why we hadn't stayed friends. Somewhere around the time of my parent's separation I decided I didn't want to be friends with her anymore. I had felt like we had nothing in common and I just quit showing up to lunch with her or talking to her in class. I felt like such a brat. And I wondered why I did such a thing? It felt awful to find out that I was the one who was responsible for our friendship not lasting and I was curious as to why I had forgotten about what happened until I read my 16 year old's notes.

We met up yesterday for lunch - thanks to the wonders of Facebook and bringing old friends together again.

After catching up on another few years of life that we had missed, I told her about what I had read in my journals about sabotaging our friendship. And I apologized for being a brat though she never really thought that about me.

As I've had the chance to think about my actions as my 16 year old self and now that I have learned a great deal about who I am and why I do some of the things I do, I am pretty sure that I set out to sabotage something great. During those teenage years, I felt so miserable and I didn't know how to feel anything but sadness. I'm pretty sure I was clinically depressed during that time, thought it was never diagnosed and I never sought help for it. I remember making everything miserable around me so that sitting in my pain felt more comforting. I remember quitting good things - like competing for All-State Choir, and backing out of fun activities with friends because I wanted to stay home and just feel sorry for myself. Maybe to someone reading about such a thing it might sound stupid or it doesn't make sense. But it makes sense to me now as an adult.

I've spent years trying to kill good and happy and joyful things, along with good relationships, because feeling miserable has the comfort of being familiar and known to me. It's been a very depraved and small way of living. And now I recognize that pattern, and make a conscious effort to live differently. I feel saddened as I think about similar relationships that look like Kelly and me. It's a common thread over the years.

Kelly talked yesterday about wanting to take me wine tasting, especially since I don't like wine and I'm convinced I could never find a wine I liked. I've wanted to like wine, I just think it's bitter and I apparently have a lousy and very unsophisticated palate. She expressed a desire to hang out more and try to rekindle a lost friendship too. Which feels like a precious gift and a taste of redemption for me.

We both married men named Todd. Which I think is a very cute coincidence. We've come a long way from talking about boys and going to the mall. And as we talked about shoes and our favorite TV shows and some of the sillier more simple things in life, I remembered how we had become such good friends when we were just girls. It was a very sweet time and I hope for more of it.

I'm smiling today at the thought of that sweet friendship that has come back around to me again. And I'm smiling at myself as I recognize where new patterns in my life are more normal now than some of my older ways of relating. It feels like victory or maturity. Maybe both. But it feels good and makes me smile.


  1. Jen, this was so touching.

    I think you should write a book. You write beautifully, and with so much depth and insight. You have so many good things to say. Maybe a memoir, or maybe some type of book to help others... I don't know, but you have a real talent for expression.

    So glad you could meet back up with your friend. :)

  2. That definitely sounds like a depression. Isn't it weird looking back and realizing why you did certain things that seemed totally illogical at the time? I have done that quite a bit.

  3. Very touching story Jen. It moved me a lot because I sort of recognize myself in it.
    I'm so glad you guys are back in touch! YAY!

  4. cool! this is so wonderful. i feel the need to thank you for reconnecting and recommitting to this friendship yall lost for a while.