Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The friend who got away...

A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out. ~Grace Pulpit


Sometimes I miss my best friend. You remember the one, right? Your first little best friend? The one who you told all of your childhood secrets to, and played barbies with.

My best friend has long since left my life. A long, long time ago.

My first little best friend was named Dedra. Dedra and I attended Union Elementary School in Macon, Georgia.  We actually met at Brownie's, not in school. She and I were in different homeroom classes, and back then - your teacher was your one teacher. Kids did not start changing classrooms until the 4th grade.

Dedra, "Dee" for short, had blond hair and big green eyes. She was skinny as a rail and had a really big overbite. Throughout the years we were always neighbors. Our families lived in Riverbend Apartments, then both families ended up moving to a neighborhood called Crystal Lake.

She and I were inseparable from 1st - 6th grade. A true little best friend. We played Barbie's together, rode bikes, played the game of "Life," and dreamed about what Middle School was like and wondered who our first boyfriend's would be. Typically if one of us had a crush, the other was sure to have the same crush. Because that was what best friend's did.

We would borrow each other's clothes, and it always seemed Dee had better clothes than me. She even had the better Barbie - Jordash Barbie. But while she sported the best clothes, best barbies, and even the Barbie Dream House - I always had the best records, the best books, and honestly - the best experiences.

See, Dee was the daughter of a single mom (most of the time.) Her mom remarried several times through out of childhood. Her older sister basically raised her and her little brother. Her mom worked all the time. My mom was a stay at home mom, and my parents made sure I had plenty of afterschool activities. I took ballet, and theater classes, and writing workshops and had my Girl Scout Meetings and theater camps and recitals. Dee had Girl Scouts... and me.

I would run off to Ballet class and come back and try to teach her all of my dances. She was actually pretty good at tap. After a few summers of tennis lessons at camp, I came back and taught Dee how to play front and backhand. She would often run lines with me - as I was trying to memorize my latest part in community theater.

She loved Huey Lewis and the News, and I was a BIG Duran Duran fan. We would listen to our records all the time and sing until our throats were scratchy. Dee got really lucky in the 6th grade and her parents got her a boom box.You remember the kind? The big silver ones, with a handle and big speakers. We would take a walk around Crystal Lake at night and blare Debarge's "Rhythm of the Night" really loud. We were in our own little protective bubbles and life was grand.

That last summer before the 7th grade we made a promise to always be best friends. We had come this far - and could not imagine life without the other. She and I both started middle school, and due to testing scores -we were placed in different clusters. With different clusters came the realization we would have to make new friends. Ironically enough, I met a red haired girl named Wendy, a brown haired girl named Jill and a blond named Tara. We ended up calling ourselves the fabulous four. Dee, on the other hand, met Wendy's best friend from childhood - Jennifer - and they became good friends. It was almost as if we switched best friends.

Still, after school, Dee and I would hang out and share stories about our new circles. We were able to keep it together in the 7th grade.

By 8th grade - my friendship circle expanded even more. I became really close to a girl named Bridgett and another named Kandis. Dee stuck to what she knew best, some of the girls from our neighborhood. I began to gravitate toward the more extroverted girls, while Dee stayed with the shy crowd. I got really caught up in theater and dance, and suddenly I did not have as much time for my dear little friend.

High school brought us closer together again. However, she was not a big fan of some of my friends. My friend Bridgett and I became very close. To know Bridgett was to know a modern day drama queen. Very beautiful girl, and yes - the boys flocked to her like a moth to the flame. I suddenly was gravitating to a more "social" group of friends, and dear little Dee, kept true to her identity and remained the same.

As the years went on - the separation became more and more clearer. We still called each other best friends, and we still hung out "after" school, but less and less. My friends were one thing and her friends were another.

The last real division for us happened our 12th grade year. We had homeroom together, and for that I was thrilled. We made a point to sit near one another and we would basically catch up in those 30 minutes - then disappear from each other's lives until the next morning.

As the year was drawing to a close.. I remember us talking about our futures. I had applied to some universities and had recently picked the one I was planning to go to. Dee, on the other hand, met a boy and saw her ticket out of her parent's home. She was going to get married.

Needless to say, I was shocked. I could not imagine this. After all of the years of dreams of big careers and amazing futures - she was taking a different path. I think the nail that drove that coffin shut was about two weeks before graduation I asked Dee if we could spend some time together before graduation and her wedding. I told her I was afraid I would never see her again. She was completely offended. She did not know why I said such a thing.

Two weeks after graduation, I attended her wedding. She was 18 years old. That summer, I have no idea where she ended up going. True to form - I worked that summer, did some community theater and ran off to college.  The year was 1991.

I did not hear from Dee until 2001. I had gotten her number from her mother. I ran into her one trip home at an Olive Garden. I rang her - and she insisted I come and visit.

At this point, I had graduated from college and was working in television. I drove the almost 4 hours to her home in south Georgia. She and her husband had 2 children and had recently purchased a manufactured home. She was very proud of her home and kids. She was a stay at home mom, her husband worked construction.

We sat up for hours talking and laughing. I brought all of my old photo albums with me and we went through every picture. She caught me up on her life also.

I left that Sunday - and have not spoken to her since. We did reconnect on FB and only chatted for about 5 minutes.

Times have changed. She has changed.. or maybe, she did not. Maybe it was me that changed.. and she will always remain.. my oldest best friend. Though we have nothing in common anymore - and the silence is almost deafening... it is a reminder of the risk of relationships. Either you evolve together, or your season has passed.

There is a Nigerian proverb that says, "Hold a true friend with both hands."

I am afraid I let go - searching for greener pastures.

13 comments:

Leanne said...

really great post . . . touching and found it's way to some feelings I have for an old friend of mine. Thanks for sharing.

Mama KC said...

24 years later, I am still best friends with my first best friend! She was Maid of Honor in my wedding 3 years ago, and I will be Matron of Honor in her wedding in July! It's crazy to think that most first best friends don't last.

Ruby@Ruby'sMusings said...

This made me tear up. My very first best friend I can actually remember,she passed away when we were both 8. She was the fist case of a child dying from taking aspirin as a child when she had a fever, or so we were all told when it happened. I still think of her to this day.
In this past couple of years my adult best friend and I had been each going through so many health, emotional and financial problems that we became toxic for each other, what should have bonded us tighter, split us up, and so we now only do check ins once every so many months...and I miss her, the good times.
Now all my friends are on line friends and it is a lonely existence to not have a bestie that lives close by...but I am so grateful for all my online pals.

Even though I teared up...great blog!

nikkig8403 said...

Thank you for sharing this story. I often miss my 3 closest friends that i had in middle school and high school. We all went off in differnt directions in our lives, although we are all in touch on facebook... we have all become very different people. It hurts my heart sometimes to think of how 3 of the greatest friends i have ever had are no longer close to me. I haven't had any close friends since them, i suppose that is because i always find myself comparing every friendship to the ones i had with them.

nikkig8403 said...

Thank you for sharing this story. I often miss my 3 closest friends that i had in middle school and high school. We all went off in differnt directions in our lives, although we are all in touch on facebook... we have all become very different people. It hurts my heart sometimes to think of how 3 of the greatest friends i have ever had are no longer close to me. I haven't had any close friends since them, i suppose that is because i always find myself comparing every friendship to the ones i had with them.

TV's Take said...

Great story and one most of us can relate to!

mirela.burst said...

Thanks for sharing this, Nicole! It really made me think about my first best friend, and what it felt like. This was such a touching post. You always have a way with words. If life ever brings you two back together, you should show her this! I know it would mean the world to her. :)
-Mirela

becca said...

this was wonderful. as a child we moved alot so i never really had a best friend

SharleneT said...

My best friend and I stayed close until her death at 58, even though we lived on opposite sides of the country. She moved to CA at 11, but we write each other every single week and shared all our moments in our letters. (We probably knew more about the other's friends and boyfriends than anyone else because we lived so far apart.) We grew into women through those letters and sent the same Christmas card back and forth for almost 30 years until it was too ragged to mail.

I've missed her terribly but I'm now at an age where friends are laid to rest more often than one wants to admit. I think it's too bad that so many only have online friends -- because they don't seem real, to me, not in the way my friend and I were. I think this generation is becoming even more isolated and that's not healthy. Time will tell. The bottom line is that friendship takes work -- from both sides, just like a marriage. If it's always one way, it's not a real friendship. We have many people who pass through our lives, but the gold is in that one real friend who knows us inside and out. That's the relationship you work on for a lifetime of joy.

Come visit when you can.

Cassandra said...

The almost same exact thing happened to me and my oldest best friend!! We were tight until junior high, and although there were still spurts of moments when we would hang out, things were just never the same. Now she's completely screwed up her life. She has a kid, living off welfare... I tried seeing her on breaks from college, which I did for a couple years, but we eventually lost touch.

It's so tragic. I wish she had stuck with me, I feel like she would be in a better place now if she had.

What Gee thinks... said...

I loved this post. You hit the nail on the head with I evolved. As heartbreaking as it is, nothing is as sure as change. You were so young. It was joyful to read that you reconnected and she was happy. Your life seemed/seems so full. Maybe she has a different definition of full, we all do.

Kenya G. Johnson said...

Wow this gave me goosebumps. I sure would be impressed if a man linked up and had a similar story. My husband is still friends wih everyone he's ever been friends with. What's the deal with that? Do they not evolve? Sorry I got off track. This was a great post ;-)

HeatherL said...

Really powerful and moving. Thank you for sharing.

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