Saturday night I visited with some old schoolmates at Kaufmann’s. It was great to be able to spend time with some of my friends I have not seen in twenty years. I marveled at how long it had been since we had all last hung out together. Yet time seem to melt away as we all laughed, ate, drank and swamped life stories. There is something extremely comfortable about sitting around a table with the people who shared your awkward years, who witnessed your metamorphosis from scared child to a young adult. I came to the realization during our conversations, my high school friends no matter how much time has passed, how much I thought life had changed me, they are the one group of people who understand and know who I am. They have no wild expectations of me, no preconceived notions of how I should act or feel. They never compare me to or expect me to be anyone but myself. They accept me mistakes, faults, quirks and all.
Some people believe when they lose touch with old friends they no longer share as close of a connection they once had, time had some how diminished their relationship. In fact it is the opposite. It may be unfathomable to some, but I have discovered time does not weaken or erase the bonds we developed in our teen years. There may be a little dust but some connections defy explanation, the bonds are unbreakable. The revelation occurred to me during a conversation over a few drinks with an old friend.
Whenever I am out, at some point during the evening someone will usually bring up the topic of my blog. I don’t mind, I find it flattering that they take time to read what I have written, my crazy ramblings. Last night was no exception. I was asked a couple questions about a few posts then quickly scolded for not posting anything new. I apologized for in essence ignoring my blog, not writing more, then explained why, the debate that was raging in my head. I informed him about some of the private messages I had received since January. The especially hurtful emails and attacks over my last post. They all left me wondering why I expose so much of myself when I write, I questioned should I remain so open? I further explained over the past year I learned because I have been so honest with how I feel or felt I was labeled by some people as emotionally irrational. To them it was not normal to care so much. I understood I should ignore them but it was hard to when their attacks were in essence meant to hurt me, attack who I was. He laughed told me not to let morons who did not understand honesty, compassion, love and loyalty to bother me. He made the correct assumption that the more hurtful comments and emails were coming from people who had never met me, had never taken the time to get to know me. He pointed out they did not understand me, they read what I wrote and made assumptions based on their life not mine. They were trying to understand me through facebook status messages and my blog. He stated I was much more complex than the two sites would ever allow them to see. My words were at times too honest, so open, they allowed the unfamaliar reader to see the depth of my emotion without them understanding that was not abnormal, that is who I have always been, extremely compassionate and loving. They only saw a partial picture of me. They were seeing me through my blog in black and white when I lived in a world full of color, full of emotion. To him “I was a labyrinth of beauty.”
He went on to tell me the reason he loved my blog, it was the honest me, the girl he remembers from junior high and high school. The sweet girl who wanted everyone around her to be happy, the constant peace maker between friends. The girl who kept everything hidden inside. The girl with all heart. The girl who cried at a party because I had hit a squirrel with my car. He chuckled made the statement, I probably still felt guilty over killing it. (By the way, yes I do thanks for reminding me) He laughed at my one blog when I made the statement I was and would never be the woman who turned men’s head. I was wrong in that assumption. It brought back the memory of the first time I showed up at the pool in a bikini, plopped down on a towel next to him and began talking about Orioles baseball game from the night before. He confessed how hard it was for him to concentrate on the conversation while I was applying suntan lotion, then laid down and untied my strings so I would not have tan lines. He confided he had to get up mid conversation so he would not be ‘embarrassed’. He explained at lunch I was surrounded by the guys not because I was one of them or they wanted to steal my food but rather they wanted to be around me. I never seemed to grasp that concept. He could never figure out who I liked, none of them could. I was a constant mystery. To him and many of his friends I was almost unobtainable in high school because they had watched me transform from this shy insecure funny looking little girl in junior high to this amazing, talented, bubbly, beautiful, intelligent free spirit. I had grown from the band geek to the captain of the pom squad, from tom boy to wow. I was naive to my own changes. That was my charm to him, I was real in a world of very fake girls. Added bonus, I knew the starting line-up and stats of the O's.
He loved how I was always extremely innocent and genuine with how I felt, I expected others to be the same way. I was the one person he knew could never lie, I didn’t have it in my soul. He could tell through my writing I was still very honest and passionate with how I felt and thought others should be. He reminded me of the time I walked up to him in the hall and very bluntly told him he was an utter jackass. Not for something he had done to me but to a friend. When I confronted him, he knew he had to be a complete jackass probably worse because I was the one person who hated confrontations, never said anything bad about another person. Then true to “Denise form” two periods later he was passed a note from me apologizing for being so blunt and rude. He loved how I always defended my friends, stood up for them. He was amazed no matter how badly someone had hurt me I always forgave them and it was never mentioned again. I always seem to simply move on, continue to push forward.
As he continued reminiscing about some of my more goofier defining moments, I looked at my high school friends surrounding me. We had shared so much together, the connection was immeasurable. We all experienced those incredible gawky teenage years. The pimples, the bad hair days, the horrible gym uniforms, the first awkward moment in front of the opposite sex, we lived it all together and survived. Our friends made us laugh after we had been ignored by the 'love of our life' at a party. We sat with them during lunch shared the joy of our first “you wouldn’t believe it” kiss by our locker between classes! We passed notes and shared secrets. They rejoiced in our excitement when we were finally asked to a dance and experienced our pain when our hearts were broken. They never left our sides as we pushed our limits, tested our boundaries. They were the ones banging on our window when we were on restriction bringing us McDonald's fries or trying to convince us to sneak out. Our high school friends were our compass to life. Sometimes they pointed us in the correct direction, other times we strayed off the path but no matter what route we took, they were always by our side.
I have close college friends, work friends, neighbors but they will never be as extraordinary as my high school friends. My friends who watched me spread my wings, help define who I am. They kicked me in my butt and kept me in check. They witnessed me as I grew, developed my character, my personality, my uniqueness. They taught me how to be a good friend. They are the foundation I built all my other friendships on. No matter how much time has passed hanging out with my high school friends will always be like coming home. There is no breaking or weakening that undeniable bond.
The connection I shared with my friends was confirmed when we all parted ways, headed home. As my friend hugged me goodbye he let me know if anyone ever caused me pain, questioned who I was, I simply had to give them his number. He would gladly catch my back, explain to them who I was, how much I was loved, how they should be honored that I was allowing them to be part of my life. He always felt that way. He was positive if he put the word out there would be a long line of Arundelites right behind him coming to my rescue, my defense. I did not doubt him, I knew what he said was true because I would do the same for him. I will always be there for my 'buddies'. I will always have my ‘friends back’. My high school friends are my rock, my strength, they will always be a part of me. They know and understand me better than anyone ever will, sometimes better than myself. I love them dearly and they will always be my family!