Sunday, February 08, 2009

My First Best Friend--part 1

We were 10 years old in 5th grade when she came to our school. She had strawberry blond hair and was a little on the pudgy side; getting ready for that tween growth-spurt that was eminent for all of us. I don't remember if this was the exact day she started our school, but I do remember swinging on the monkey-bars with her at recess, and sticking up for her when some class bully was looking for her weak-link being that she was new and all. It was that recess when it became clear that we would be friends. Up until that point I had, had two good girl friends, both dictated by location more than anything else. When Marie moved in, I made my first real friend. We were friends by our choice. We didn't really live close to each other, and our folks were never what you would call "friends". In a lot of ways, your first true friend is like your first true love. We made a lot of mistakes in our friendship, but somehow we weathered them. None of them were such that I really remember any of the arguments very clearly.

During middle school our group of girlfriends grew to include 3 others and a fourth joined us in high school, and of course there were a few boys that hung with us too, but Marie and I were the best of friends within that group. We had very separate interests outside of school; she was on swim team; the result of a a doctor's prescription for bad knees and I was in dance. Instead of that pulling us apart it just included extras into our friendship. We tired to make sure we got classes together if we could, but we didn't try to influence the other's choices; she took Spanish & I took French. I went to her swim meets, she came to my dance recitals. We had, what I know now, was a very adult approach to our friendship. It was entirely based on the fact that we genuinely liked each other. No other reason then that.

I started out kindergarten w/our group of kids and knew everyone. She came in later, so when we started high school, and "shy" Marie decided she was going to run for class president, I have to admit to being a bit surprised. Our little gaggle of girls walked her around to every freshman in the class (330) and introduced her. She won. She was our class president for 3 years and was able to make everyone in our class feel included. Marie and I were even co-editors of the school newspaper together. I'm sure we drove our adviser crazy, but it was a lot of fun. Marie wasn't really all that shy. I knew that, but you had to get to know her in those early days to find that out. It was Marie who handed me my first cocktail our sophomore year of high school; 151 w/a splash of Coke for color. I'll tell you the story of that party later. The point is that we weathered all the usual friendship bumps without many issues. Our friendship was stronger than that.

All that being said, when it came time to apply for colleges no one in our group talked about where they were really applying to go to. There was some unwritten code that we would all let each other know where we were going, once we'd decided for sure. I guess we shouldn't have been all that surprised that Marie and I both applied to the same schools. We both wanted to go into journalism so it made sense. I don't think the rest of our friends really believed us about not talking about it before hand, but really we didn't. In the end, we both choose the same college. As our friendship had always gone we did decide not to room together in the dorms (meet more people this way, make more friends). Marie didn't get her form in or something and did not get a room in the dorms. Opps! She was able to get into an just off-campus apartment which operated like the dorms, pairing roommates together. It was for the best, we would know of all the fun parties on campus and off! We both moved in on the same day, a week before school started. Every day we'd lay by the pool and every night we knew where all the parties were, and we were at them. A few days before school started, I got very, very sick. It was Marie who knew me well enough to know it wasn't just too much partying and borrowed her room mate's car to get me to the hospital. I was dehydrated and went from 115 lbs to 100 lbs in 3 days (years later I would find out it was IBS from Fibromyalgia). I was sent home and missed that first week of college. I'm pretty sure my parents would've made me withdraw, except they knew Marie was there & would watch out for me. That first semester moved us along, more or less, like we always had. Missing the first week of school made it a bit harder for me to make friends, but I did. And, the kids at Marie's apartment complex were fun to hang out with anyway. It wasn't until the second semester when our relationship changed.

More later this week...