Recently I read a memoir, Overdue Apologies, by Noriko Nakada. It is her story of middle school life at Pilot Butte Junior High in Bend, Oregon in the 80s. I never attended PBJH, but when my family moved to Bend, I attended high school with all the real-life ‘characters’ that appear in this book.
The memoir is a realistic reminder of how difficult the tween and teen years are in middle school. Sharing lockers, first kisses, passing notes, gym classes and serious belly-aching causing crushes that last at least a week make me wish I could time-warp my own kids past this phase where popularity is of the utmost importance.
But the most important aspect of this book I learned about was the natural cycle of friendships.
When I moved to Bend, I started high school in a town where nearly everyone who was attending our high school came from the only two middle schools in town. When I started making friends, I could never figure out why certain people were friends. I understood when the swim team members were all friends, or the yearbook committee were all friends, but what I was not understanding was that sometimes people were friends (when they seemingly had absolutely nothing in common) because their houses were across the street from each other and they had played together since their diaper days.
My own family moved every 2-4 years throughout my childhood and friendship started when we moved to a new town and ended when we moved away. A few postcards or letters and then the end of the friendship and on to new friends in a new town.
Throughout Overdue Apologies, friends come and friends go, not based on location, but based on the natural ebb and flow of interests, bonding moments and adventures they have together.
Recently I’ve made an effort to connect with some of the old friends I’ve left behind after moving. There is a true power of energy and reconnection to hear the sound of an old friend’s voice on the end of the phone. Yes, emails or Facebook updates are great, but the sweet sound of a friend’s laughter is golden.
With a college roommate we laughed about our current aging situations – grey hair for me and root canals for her. With an old boss, we connected over the upcoming birth of his grandchild and lamented a scary car accident of another. With an old babysitter, we just chatted about how much the kids have grown and changed.
And another friend recently showed her beautiful face in Boulder for a conference and went out of her way to get in touch with me and we planned a dinner date. Ahhh, the power we both gained from reminiscing about our travels and dreams – both at home and abroad.
As my 7 year old says, “I have lots of BFFs.” And I do, too, I just wish they all lived across the street!