Friday, October 26, 2007

Friends Indeed

Almost exactly 26 years ago, I met someone who would change my life. She loves to tell people how we met and it goes something like this:

"It was the first day of school. I was the new kid. I sat down in homeroom, scared as hell and the girl sitting in front of me whipped around and said, "HI! Who are you? You're new here aren't you? What's your name? I'm Heather!"...and proceeded to ask her a bunch of questions.

That would be me. The girl I ambushed is Laura, my best friend....whether she likes it or not.

The way I remember it, I was just being friendly. I was a pretty obnoxious kid, though. Loud, in-your-face and .....well, loud. Laura's version of the story is probably pretty accurate. She likes to punctuate it by imitating her reaction to my "greeting". Her eyes grow wide and she tries desperately to push her desk far, far away from mine.

Truth is, we weren't very good friends until we both joined the rifle corps a few years later. Not point-and-shoot rifle corps, but spin, toss and (hopefully) catch rifle corps. We bonded at practices and band camp. We both had foul mouths, short tempers and were attracted to aloof soccer players.

It turned that as many differences as we had (she was very smart and studious, I was a cut up and barely kept a C average), we had as many or more similarities: we were awkward, middle-class Catholic girls in a sea of pretty, wealthy Methodists. We lived on the edge of the school district. While the other kids lived near the rolling green hills of a fine private college, Laura lived across the street from the state mental hospital and I lived across the street from a home for wayward youths. It wasn't uncommon for us to see police helicopters hovering over our backyards looking for escapees from either institution.

We grumbled about school, the popular kids, politics and parents. We worked at the same drug store and had crushes over many of the same boys. We pestered, teased and swooned over a boy older than us, a boy we came to call the Grinch. We drank wine coolers and drove recklessly down winding, dark roads, headlights off, heads out the window, howling at the moon. She tolerated my big mouth and defended me to no end. I'm not sure exactly what I did to reciprocate her friendship, other than get her out of the house and let her howl at the moon.

Like a lot of high school "best friends forever" we lost touch for a while once our college lives kicked into high gear. But there was always a letter, always an effort to keep in touch. Because that's what real friends do.

Now we grumble over our children's schools, supervisors at work and husbands. We work similar crazy schedules. We celebrate each other's triumphs and mourn each others losses with tears, laughter and long hugs. And she still defends me, though she's more likely now to tell me I'm being an idiot, too. I'm learning (I hope) to be a better friend to her so she'll stick around for another 26 years.

This post has already gotten too long and it doesn't really have a point, except to say: Thanks, Laura, for being my friend....whether you like it or not.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Right back at you. You are the best thing that came out of that school for me. Love you too!