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Old scars

Posted in Aging, Life & Love, Relationships, and Women's issues

Best_Friends_by_SinfulEyes1In the face smiling at me, a face I haven’t set eyes on in over 30 years, I can still see the  sweet expression of the six-year old who used to hold my hand on the way back from school. My best friend through elementary and middle school is right there, at the center of her Facebook page, a life unspooled away from me: her son, her companion, her trips – mostly the happy occasions we like to share with the world.

A mutual friend who was able to track me down put us back in touch. Her e-mail, a reply to mine, opens with “You can’t imagine the happiness at having found you again. Every time I pass by your old house, I look at your windows and remember our childhood”. She continues by cracking her life open for me to see, much more than I was able to in my first stilted and humorous foray, as if we were still talking about the boys we liked and who kissed whom. Her many losses, the hard punches, the getting back up, none of it ever shared with me: “So often I tried to find you but I was never able to”.

I don’t even know her woman’s voice. It’s her teenage trill that I remember.

How could we have been so careless to lose each other? Different high schools, different paths; her early pregnancy, my moving away, they cannot be blamed. My truth is, I thought we were different people, while we just made different choices. P was my very first best friend and I should have taken better care of our bond.

How do friendships end? Is it true they change as we age, that like relationships, they evolve and sometimes die of natural causes? The question has been much on my mind of late. As a woman who values friendship , especially female friendship, above most other things in life, I left a pretty hefty trail of discarded girlfriends in my five decades on this earth. None of them were abandoned in haste or anger (well, almost none. I am still sorry E, that I slept with your boyfriend. That I was young and stupid and he most handsome, are not good excuses and you have earned the right to hate me forevermore. You might draw some pleasure in knowing I value that act as one of the most despicable in my otherwise fairly honest life).

Circumstances change, we tell ourselves, our lives are busy and there is no room for every single person who walked alongside us. But I can’t help thinking that the people we most trusted, with whom we shared our inner lives, at different points in the journey, should always be part of the inner circle in some fashion. Like the most meaningful loves, who will always walk around with a piece of our heart, there are those girlfriends who will always hold our secrets. And unlike our loves, who are most often best left in the past, there is no reason our old girlfriends should be consigned to the same fate.

“ I will always have the scar on my wrist from when I punched my hand into your bathroom window, to remember us by” P writes. How could I have forgotten?

Image found here

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12 Comments

  1. I’m still in touch with two friends that I’ve known since I was 5 years old. I live in the Midwest, they live on the East Coast. I keep in touch with one on facebook and the other, we write letters to each other every Christmas to catch up since she is technologically challenged ; – ) Both of them are married. I treasure their friendships.

    February 8, 2013
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    • Isn’t it wonderful? I do have a handful of childhood friends who are still prominently in my life and with Skype, e-mails and messagin, it’s all become easier and cheaper

      February 8, 2013
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  2. Made me think of a few friends with whom I reconnected and then lost touch all over again. Life is too busy. Enjoyed reading your story. Great title.

    February 5, 2013
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  3. What a lovely post ~ so happy you’ve gotten in touch again! It’s those memories on which we can rebuild relationships! Amazing how we can sometimes just pick up the relationship from 30 years prior with a caring hug and word! xo

    February 4, 2013
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    • I still haven’t seen her. Might flight to Miami in March for a face to face!

      February 4, 2013
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  4. Annamaria
    Annamaria

    Three years ago I have found by FB two of my closest girlfriends of adolescence.
    One moved to another town, the other… I don’t know why we stopped seeing each other.
    After more than 25 years the magic is back.
    And now that I am living a difficult moment, they are at my side with their friendship, strength and love.
    You are right, the women we shared our inner lives at different points in the journey are there. Always. We only need to find the time and refresh that piece of our heart.

    Annamaria

    February 4, 2013
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    • And you better know you are one of them for me

      February 4, 2013
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      • Annamaria
        Annamaria

        …and you too…
        xxx

        February 5, 2013
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  5. It is one of the great sorrows of my own life that the female friendships that meant the most have not always been nurtured when the miles grew between us. Being military wives, we moved often (and it was easy enough to lose track of these precious women), but those friendships have wasted away for want of nurturing. Miles could be overcome, if only we had tried harder and made it a higher priority. Perhaps we simply didn’t have that extra energy to reach out when we were dealing with our own life changes (and those of our families).
    I’ve been trying to rekindle one such friendship but her life has changed drastically and it seems as though a wall has been built to keep out painful reminders of what once was a beautiful dream. I am saddened by that loss.

    February 4, 2013
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    • I found that sometimes it’s just impossible, despite our best efforts and intentions. I “lost” a wonderful college friend to schizophrenia – even years later, when the meds finally had the disease in check, I could tell she wanted to keep her distance. Always wondered if I reminded her of happier times or of the onset of her disease

      February 4, 2013
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      • There’s lots of shame attached to mental illness. Self stigmatization is one of the biggest hurdles for people to overcome. With new people you can start again.

        February 6, 2013
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