Wednesday, April 12, 2006

3 Friends

When I was in high school, I was lucky enough to have 3 close friends: Angela, Alice, and Grace. Oddly enough, these three girls didn't know each other and I didn't know their other friends all that well. Most high school kids were into cliques, but I was pretty oblivious. To this day, I have no idea who was popular in my school. It never occurred to me to care. Being a teenager wasn't much fun, for all the usual reasons -- the hormones, the pudginess, the social awkwardness, gym class, etc. I did manage to miss out on pimples, though, so that was something. But I also had my brother, and he more than made up for any advantage lack of acne might have given me. But I had Angela, Alice, and Grace. They made life bearable.

Angela was a year younger than me. She was friends with my "best friend" in junior high (Deborah. Feh.) She was in various choirs, musical theater and dance. She cultivated an image of ditzy zaniness, which was a front for depression and an eating disorder. Her father told her that if she became a lesbian he would disown her. We both thought that was hilarious, considering how boy-crazy she was. When she later did come out as a lesbian, he didn't disown her, realizing that his job is to love is daughter and preferring to leave any judgment to God. Our friendship never got over my revelation of a big secret I kept from her (which, in my defense, I kept from myself as well) and we drifted apart. I've seen her a few times over the years, but we have turned into very different people and the connection isn't there anymore. It's sad, but I don't think unusual.

Alice and I became friends in the 6th grade (though, we may have met in the 5th grade). I don't remember what we bonded over, maybe a shared sense of nerdiness, but we were friends from 6th grade through high school. Alice was steady, she was smart, she wasn't moody, she had two overprotective parents, an older brother and sister and a dog (of which I was terrified). Alice's house was safe. She was safe. And comforting. Alice has diabetes -- I think she was diagnosed with it in the 4th or 5th grade. I'm not a parent, but I would imagine that there is nothing like a serious, chronic condition like diabetes to strike fear into the hearts of parents and make them seriously limit what their child can do. Because my stepmother, Linda also has diabetes, I was the only friend with whom Alice was allowed to spend the night. She told me last year that, despite being afraid of our cats, my house was safe (which just proves that safety is relative, since my house wasn't safe for me. Obviously, my brother never hit her.) During our overnights, we would lay awake all night talking. We were both pretty aware of the world's problems, and, like all teenagers, we had the solutions. When we graduated from high school, I went to France for a year, she went to Michigan State University. I don't know that we saw each other again until last year. There was no reason that we stopped seeing each other, we just embarked on new lives. When we saw each other again last year, though, she was the Alice I knew all those years ago, and I was the Lee she knew. Unlike Angela and I, we grew the same way.

Grace moved down the street from us when we were Juniors in high school (I think). After months of walking to school in close proximity to each other, we finally started walking together and became close friends. I don't remember what we did together, but it involved a lot of talking (and maybe U2 and Billy Idol. Which gave me headaches. Because my taste in music sucked back then, and I won't admit how much). Grace was very kind and very understanding. I remember, too, that she was very sad. Not in a hard to be around kind of way (which I can be), but in a way that gave her deeper kindness and understanding. I think Grace understood what it meant to be hurt. She had the perfect name. I've seen Grace only once since graduating, either while we were in college or just after. She was either about to get married, or had just gotten married. I recently heard from her husband. He is planning a surprise party for her in late May and is hoping for a reunion of her old friends. So sweet!

How does it happen, that these three girls were so important to me, and then they slipped through my fingers?


Easter Carrot said...

My septugenarian Uncle Bill still keeps in contact with several of his friends from *grade school*. Meets with them at least once a year, even though they're scattered around the state.

I don't get it. Most of the folks I went to HS with were jerks, and staying in contact with the 3-4 that weren't has proven too much effort these last 10 yrs.

The friends I made 20-odd yrs ago are worth more effort, however ;)

Grace said...

It is hard to believe we can let time separate us but we do. I think of you and hope for the best. I would love to hear from you. Maybe you will get this comment : ) Look me up on Facebook.