I've always been the type of person to have just a few close friends. I never had a large group of good friends. Groups of friends, but not necessarily ones I'd call close. I can tell you who my close friends were in every grade. It was usually 2 to 3 people, always girls. In eighth grade, I was a part of a close group of 5 friends, 2 of them were boys. I loved these people in the biggest way my 13-14 year old heart could. They still hold a place there, for what they gave me that year, a true sense of belonging & acceptance.
Left to Right: Alex, Mary, Me, Nathan, Judy
Mary, Nathan & I had parents who were still married. Judy & Alex both lived with their dads and had minimal contact with their mothers. We all had younger siblings we could commiserate about. Judy was the first friend I'd ever had who was rebellious. I spent a lot of time at her apartment and being around her made me feel less of a goody-two-shoes. We were inseparable all year, but after high school started, we drifted apart. I am glad we have reconnected in recent years. Mary was a lot like me in many ways. We were not edgy or daring. Our parents had strict rules and we pretty much followed them. We were not the types of girls who got a lot of attention from boys. We were not popular, any of us really. Nathan was Mary's "boyfriend", and was a very sweet kid. He was Mormon and had the strictest parents of any of us. He was a wild child just waiting to break out. Right before the year ended, he became my first "boyfriend". Unfortunately, once summer started, his parents wouldn't let him go anywhere or talk on the phone for long. That relationship was doomed from the start. However, it did give me some self-esteem that I was lacking. SOMEONE was interested in me. It was a gift I'll never forget. Mary ended up going to a different high school than me, and I ended up losing contact with them both. I have been in touch with both of them occasionally over the years, but nothing lasting. I hope they are both happy and well. Alex and I have known each other since the third grade. We were not friends then and after moving away, he came back to my school in fifth grade. That's the first year I can remember wanting attention from boys and failing at getting it. I wanted Alex to like me. He did not seem to be interested. He popped up in my life again in 8th grade, and became part of my family of friends. He always had a smile for me and was goofy and endearing. He never acted like he was interested in anything more than being friends. Our little group broke up once the summer started and my relationship with Alex suffered the same fate. We found each other again later in high school, and feeling like maybe fate had a hand in all of it, I agreed when he asked me to be his girlfriend. It was very short-lived. It just wasn't meant to be, for many reasons, some more obvious than others. We parted ways and although we continued to run into each other here and there, it's only been in the last few years that we've become friends again. I cherish the memories I have of him, but really hold dear the relationship we have now. He is a true friend, one that I feel comfortable trusting with vulnerable pieces of myself. He is not a threat to my marriage, nor am I to his. But we have a history that, although it's missing quite a few years, is special to us both. I love him, he is my friend.
There are many times that I look at pictures of friends that I've had, many who I have lost touch with, and wonder how they are and what they are doing now. I wish that I had known then to hold them a little closer and appreciate them a little more. I miss them and sometimes I miss who I was when I knew them. There are many things I would have done differently (who can't say that?), but there is no way I would trade the friends I've had.