Saturday, March 12, 2011

My Friend Jen

"A circle is round
It has no end
That's how long
I will be your friend"

Sometimes in life, we get really lucky.  I grew up in a small town, only a few miles from where I live now, and went to a small school.  There were only about 50 kids in my graduating class, and high school, though ok, was NOT the best time of my life. I was not super popular, and had the normal trouble trying to feel  like I fit in. I know, now, from this vantage point in life, that I was certainly not the only one. It's pretty normal to feel the way I did, and the kids who sail through high school are often the ones for whom high school IS the pinnacle of life. When I graduated from highschool, oh so many years ago, I felt that I really didn't care too much about staying in touch, or seeing most of my classmates ever again.  There were a few exceptions to that, and my friend Jen was one of those. We even shared an apartment together for awhile at the end of college, and that was one of the best times in my life. I loved our little apartment (a pig barn turned into apartment, including low ceilings and dark, handhewed beams, and a bathtub/shower too tall with the low ceiling to stand up in properly) and I loved having Jen as my room-mate. (The BEST memory of those months together were the  weekly trips to Friendly's, where, because I was so not worried about my weight back then, I only ever ordered the gigantic Reeces peanut butter sundae. THOSE were the days!)
Over the years, life happened. Jen got married, I got married. Jen had a son in Januray; I had one in May. She lived in the same  town where we grew up, I moved ten miles down the road. Our little guys were pretty good friends for a few years. Another mental snapshot that is one of my favorite's is a Halloween parade at our old school, with Spenser as Santa Claus, and Keenan right next to him as a penguin.  That photo still warms my heart. Then,life continued to happen.  Jen got divorced, moved about half an hour away, met new people, got remarried, had another child, and we stayed friends, stayed in touch, just not as close.
Then, Jen moved three hours away, and we really kind of fell out of touch, although I knew where she was. But it was hard to stay as close when her kids and mine were growing up apart, and our lives didn't really intersect at all.  I missed her. I just didn't know how much I missed her until she - hooray - moved back home again. Well, back to the town that was half an hour away, but compared to three hours, that's "back home."  When she returned, I was happy, but not necessarily hopeful that we would be as close again. I'm not always great at putting in the time necessary to keep friendships strong, much to my sorrow. But life had happened to both of us, and suddenly, she was close again, not only in physical proximity, but in-touch close.It was probably the first time in both our lives that we had SO MUCH in common.  How does that happen, I wonder?  That's when I realized, I think, how very much I had missed her the years she was away, and how much you DO need some people to remain in your life, always. There's something so good about realizing that you have a shared history with someone. That your parents know each other, that you lived in the same town, played in the same creek, explored the same woods, had the same elementary teachers, know the same stories about kids you went to school with. It makes me happy beyond explanation that I still have in my life a friend whom I have literally known since before I attended kindergarten. That's nearly half a century of being friends. And the stories from growing up we share are just amazing stories - miles and miles of bike rides, farm days bringing the cows in and drinking milkshakes from cans, eating Zots, endless, endless summers.
Now, Jen STILL lives about half an hour away from me, but I had never made the trip to see her new old house that they are remodeling. We stay in touch through phone calls, occasional trips to do something together, emails and facebook messages. Her job brings her to my school, occasionally, and my job takes me to her school sometimes. I don't know WHY I hadn't made the trip - she has goats. That, in itself, should have taken me over there sooner. I guess because life is just, well, you know, happening. There never seems to be a lot of free time, and when I have some, I just don't MAKE the time to go anywhere. Too bad, really, and something I need and want to change.
Because of a cool craft idea Jen has (she's an amazingly talented artist and a crafty person, and I admire and envy that part of her personality), she got three of us (also two other people we went to school with - thank you, Facebook)) together with her at her house to show us and talk about this idea. SO, finally forcing myself outside of my social phobia small comfort circle, I went. And I can't tell you how glad I am that I did.  Did I mention that Jen has GOATS?     :)
Not only does she have goats, but she lives in the best. place. ever. I am SO envious. She lives down a dirt road, with pine trees on both sides, out in the middle of nowhere. She has a pine-lined driveway, that winds up to the house, which is like this big old barn on the outside, and just super cool on the inside. I LOVE the house. I LOVE the location. I LOVE Jen's goats. I LOVED Jen's driveway that actually winds on up PAST the house, past the barn, and wanders off into the woods, woods that just call out to be walked through. (Hmm, how many times has Jen told me that, and asked me to come over and walk with her?)   Little tiny white Christmas lights are hanging from the pines along the drive, and in the barn, and make the whole place just look like a fairyland. If I were artsy at all, I would have thought of that, but, of course, I never would have. It's gorgeous and magical.
And we had pizza that night that was literally the best pizza I have ever eaten. I've never had a pizza that tasted so fresh and perfect. It didn't have sauce on it, just an oil mixture. And fresh tomatoes, and spinach and olives and sliced whole mozzarella. Oh my gosh, it was soooo good. And I split a bottle ofgood red wine with one of my friends, a couple of glasses to go with the pizza.
Sometimes, things just all collide to be the perfect time, and that night at Jen's was. It just makes me extremely glad, and super thankful, that I have been lucky enough to have Jen in my life all these years. I'm glad she came back. I'm glad we've grown  over the years. I'm glad I know she will always be a part of my life. She's one of those friends you can go weeks without talking to, but then pick up the phone and continue on with the conversation as though you had just set it down to take an apple pie out of the oven a minute or two ago... or had to run out and feed the goats....

Jen keeps me grounded. I know her well enough to seriously envy parts of her life, and yet, to realize that it isn't all magical fairy lights and adorable goats. We have a shared past, and future plans as well. Some of those are to go do some fun things together, and some of those, at least from my end, involve nothing more strenuous than feeding goats, walking through the woods, and making more pizzas.

Sometimes in life, we just get lucky. I'm lucky to have had Jen in my life, my whole life.
"Make new friends
But keep the old
One is silver
And one is gold."


Meg said...

What a lovely post! Isn't it amazing how things work out like that, that someone you were so close with has come around back into your life and you can just pick right back up where you left off?

BTW, what was the craft??

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

Craft is fusing/repurposing plastic into new things - fun!

Upcycled Accessories: 25 Projects Using Repurposed Plastic [Paperback]