Today is September 23rd. From 3rd-5th grade my best friend's name was Karen and her birthday is September 23. Karen and I were inseparable, having met in Mrs. Vardy's 3rd grade class when I was the new kid. Karen lived across the street from the school, so we could walk to her house for lunch. I was at the store yesterday buying spaghetti and passed those tiny little dots of pasta. I'm not even sure what they're called, but it's a squatty box of pasta with little dots that look like that would have been the result of a very runny pasta dough that dripped one drop at a time onto the counter. Karen's mom used to make us tomato soup with pastina (that's what she called them anyway.) My mom always made tomato soup with water, but Karen's mom made it with milk. I loved the creamy warm goodness with the extra starch from the pasta that filled me up after that cold but brief walk to Karen's house.
So one thought of Karen at the grocery store, and then this morning when I looked at the date. In case you're wondering, Karen and I drifted apart once we hit middle school. Karen fell in with the "cool" kids who knew how to flirt with boys and were all impressed with the fact that they were 6th graders with Coach purses. I know, it's pretty messed up. But as I've said before, I grew up in a John Hughes movies. The pressure for Guess jeans and Coach purses was pretty unbearable. I fell in with a different crowd of kids. We were smart and we thought we were cool even though the rest of the world thought we were dorks because we got good grades and the teachers liked us. They called us the Get-Along Gang behind our backs. And that was okay with us, because in our world we were really fun. The truth is that most everyone liked us, we just didn't get invited to the "cool kids" parties since we didn't drink and weren't all that interested in giving blow jobs in the school bathrooms. It was a wonderfully safe group of friends with which to discover the world and grow up. We stayed together from 6th-12th grade.
And then I went to college and I started drinking and kissing lots of boys and all those things that normal kids do in college. But most of my group of friends were still stuck on "drinking is bad," "hooking up with anyone besides the 4 or 5 boys in our little group makes you a slut," etc. So we fell out of touch as I found new friends with which to experience the world. Thankfully my dearest friend from the Get-Along Gang is still part of my life. She was the maid-of-honor in my wedding and we still get together every chance we have. But in spite of losing touch with the G-A-G, I still think of them at the oddest of times and every year on birthdays (May 30, March 17, December 19, November 4, September 30, etc.) Funny how those dates stick in my head.
I love the fact that every year on March 8, I wonder what my high school boyfriend is doing and how his life has turned out. But it is also a tad bittersweet. He was such a part of my life and helped to define who I was becoming from 15-18. And now, he's just a periodic blip in my mind's scrapbook. But, I suppose that's part of living your life. Eleanor Roosevelt got it right when she said, "Many people will walk in and out of your life, But only true friends will leave footprints in your heart." I feel lucky that my heart has hundreds of footprints. I frequently sign letters, cards and e-mails with "I think of you often." Just know that it's not lip service. So wherever you are if you're thinking of me, know that I think of you too. And every year on your birthday, give yourself a hug from me. That calendar in my brain won't let me forget you, even if I don't send a card.