Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Friends: Old and New

I am reading a memoir ("Before the Year Dot") by my favorite soap star on my favorite British soap.  June Brown is the actress and "Eastenders" is the soap. (I have been watching that show for over 25 years, since it was first introduced to American audiences on PBS).

In her memoir she says about old friends,

"In the end I lost touch with most of my school friends but when you meet people who were your childhood friends you just pick up where you left off.  You have your childhood in common and your youth - there is an understanding there that you don't share with friends you make when you are older.  Your childhood friends know you as you were - before the baggage of life and age attached itself."

I latched onto that because I think it is so true.

I have been fortunate enough to keep in touch with some childhood friends over the years and have found many more of my old friends through Facebook.  I know there are many of you out there who believe Facebook is evil, and that might be true to a certain extent, but Facebook has also put me back in touch with those childhood friends who knew me as I was..."before the baggage of life and age attached itself."  And we have indeed picked up where we left off, sharing memories and getting to know our new selves, the ones with baggage. 

It's funny, though, what each of us remembers and what each of us has forgotten.  For example, my college roommate and I used to play a card game (Nertz) almost every night our Freshman year, a card game that SHE taught ME.  I recently asked her about the scoring.  I remember how to play the game, but I couldn't remember how it was scored.  SHE NOT ONLY DID NOT REMEMBER THE SCORING SHE DIDN'T REMEMBER PLAYING THAT GAME WITH ME AT ALL!

But I can forgive her.  Memories are strange things.  We retain some; discard others.  Some mean more to me; some mean more to them. Some get tarnished or embellished with time.

I have many happy memories.  I have learned a lot from my friends - old and new.

Here is what we were like before age and "the baggage" set in and some things I learned from them.

One of my very early friends was Bobby, who lived down the alley from us.  We used to play Robin Hood and Maid Marian in the rock garden next door to his house.  His family had a bomb shelter in their back yard.  That's when I started worrying about the bomb.


When I was seven, we moved, and my best friend was another boy - Chucky.  He lived around the block from me and his family also had a collie, except it was one of those black and brown collies.  His name was Buzzy.  Here Buzzy and Echo (our collie) are playing and running free as dogs did in those days. Chucky and I acted out all of the "Twins" books ("The Dutch Twins," "The American Twins of the Revolution," etc. ) by Lucy Fitch Perkins.  They were boy and girl twins so that fit perfectly into our dramatizations.  We also played with my dolls together. His Dad didn't like that.  I learned much later that Chucky was one of the early victims of AIDS.


Barbie was one of my best friends in elementary and middle school.  You can see how much I liked her because I am photo bombing the picture with my fingers behind her head (someone should bomb my glasses and hair).  She and her family (that's her sister in the foreground with the glasses) lived in a fantastic mansion with a ballroom on the top floor, and we would go up there and play dress up and get up to all kinds of mischief.  I remember loving her mother. 

Barbie and I went to camp together when we were seven.  I was a fussy eater and we were required to take at least one bite of everything served to us. I would gag just thinking about it.  I also couldn't swim and was not good at making lanyards.  I think it got to be too much, and I humiliated myself by crying for my Mom.  When I was trying to go to sleep at night I would see tuna fish sandwiches and my mother's face swirling around and it was more than I could bear.  They let me call my Mom and then I managed to make it for the rest of the time.  Barbie never held that against me.


First big crush.  In grade school he called me a freckled faced monster and I hit him with my bucket purse.  But here we are older - 7th grade.  I asked him to a Sadie Hawkins type dance and he said yes. He taught me to like nice, tall, handsome boys.

Janice was one of my best friends since middle school (we called it Junior High in those days).  She was the first to like Bob Dylan (I'm talking 8th grade here and we were so sophisticated we loved his "Baby Let Me Follow You Down"), when even the DJ's didn't know who he was and didn't pronounce his name properly - they called him Bobby Die-lyn.  She wrote wonderful poetry and was very intellectual. We worked on the problems of the world.  We even started a school Philosophy Club together.  She taught me what it was to be cool.

Another best friend, Linda, was an only child so her parents took me on lots of trips with them - Chicago, Florida, New England.  I have so many memories, but one in particular was her showing me how to shave my legs and some other girl stuff.  My mother was clueless when it came to that kind of thing.  Linda taught me what it was to be a loving friend.

We are the smarty pants being inducted into the Honor Society but starting to show our rebellious side.   Long story about Charles Hackley.

Speaking of rebellious, it's the late 60's.  My roommate in college.  Poor girl.  She wanted a non-smoking roommate, but I couldn't say I smoked on my college application. My mother would see.  I remember my parents dropping me off on the first day and then when they left, flopping down in a chair and with my best Tallulah Bankhead impression (I was very dramatic) saying to her, "By the way, I smoke and I sleep with my boyfriend."  What could she do?  So we became best friends.  She taught me about being a loyal friend even when I was a pain in the butt.

And here we are at Thanksgiving at my parent's home. She lived on the West Coast and we were in college in Michigan so she came home with me.  We are thinking we are very cool in our "kooky" sunglasses.  And, Mom, what's with that wallpaper?

Right after college, I moved to San Francisco.  That was what everyone from Michigan was doing in those days.  My first job was working for the Bank of America and Jeanne was my best friend there.  She was a Californian. She just about choked on her lunch when I said I wanted some "pop," meaning a soft drink.  She also couldn't believe anyone would eat doughnuts with apple cider, a Fall highlight of my growing up years in Michigan.  She taught me it was OK to be opinionated and not to suffer fools.  I liked that.  I just found her recently on Facebook after over 40 years.  We just picked up where we left off.

After a horrible divorce that left me devastated, I met soon-to-be Hubby and his friends and they took me on.  Let's just say it was the 80's.  They taught me how to party again.


When Hubby was immersed in the computer industry, he traveled to the UK frequently and I got to tag along.  We made many friends there.  They taught us that some things travel well:  friendship. 

If you read my blog post on my Swedish heritage, you know all about my cousin Jane. Having her in my life has been a great gift. She looked after my son when he studied in Sweden, she and her husband have made the effort to travel with us in Europe and she is that wonderful link to my mother's Swedish side of the family.   

And as for new friends... ten years ago, Hubby and I took a leap and moved to a completely new city, not knowing anyone.  We had heard that people in Seattle were friendly and polite, but not likely to invite you over for BBQ.  That is true to a certain extent, but despite the difficulty of meeting and making friends when you are older and encumbered with that aforementioned baggage, we have some wonderful friends who have welcomed us over for BBQ!

So many wonderful friendships in my life, and I am so glad I am still in touch with many of the people I have known over the years, even if it's just in cyberspace. Barbie, Candy, Lois, Janice, Linda, Rick, Ralph, Paul, Jeanne, David, Stephen, Dan, Bob, John, Leslie, Bill, Glenn, Steve, Judy, Lois, Lesley, Myra, Janie, Chris, Jim and John. So many more and too many new faces to list here.

No matter what you feel about the Internet or Facebook or any form of social media, it does have the power to bridge the time gap, to reach out over time and bring back happy memories and reunite us with those who knew our young and pure selves, before we had all of that baggage to carry.

Thinking about them all, I am wondering if our memories of each other would be the same.  If they remember the same things that I remember.  What remains and what has fallen away?
My 50th High School Reunion will take place in 2016 and I plan to attend so I can see my "childhood" friends in person once again.  And you know what?  I think we will just pick up where we left off!
Have you reunited with your childhood friends?
Thanks for Reading!
See you Friday
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 and my
Week in Reviews
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