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Lost at Sea on the SS Friendship: Part 1

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Ahoy there, blog-reader!  You have chosen to donate some precious moments of your sultry summer-day and read my own personal thoughts and ramblings!  Way to go!  This post was even longer than my normally wordy entries, so I’ve decided to split it into two…we’ll see how that goes.  But you have decided to check it out regardless!

There are a few reasons why you’d actually choose to do this:

Number 1: You were very bored and are stuck in a waiting room at the dentist/oil-change place/your kid’s dance lesson and since you have already thumbed through the month’s-old version of TIME magazine, you thought this wordy blog may provide you with some means of escape.

Number 2: We’re friends, and although you’ve never actually read my blog before, you figured that you might as well see what I’ve been writing about, since the only other FB time-wasting options were some old classmate’s newly posted bar-scene photos or a video of a distant acquaintance’s kid try their first bite of a lemon slice.

Number 3: Your toddler was climbing in your lap during your Facebook time and accidentally clicked on my link.

Number 4: You are related to me/married to me and know that my feelings would be hurt if you didn’t read my creative outbursts.

Yep.

I have been toying around with today’s blog topic ever since I started blogging.  I shied away from it though, since I was concerned about hurting people’s feelings.  I was very concerned that I couldn’t write about this topic without offending those people that I actually wanted to be reaching out to and I have spent many a shower-thinking-time trying to figure out how to compose my feelings, while simultaneously avoiding any bruised people.  I will admit that there were often times that I really wasn’t thinking about how it would make you all feel and I just wanted to get my thoughts on paper (or screen, I guess), so today will also be a great practice in editing for me, since I know I will be erasing at least half of what I actually put down!  Which brings me to announce today’s blog theme: FRIENDSHIPS!  How does this fit into my previous task of blogging about things that seem to be cool or popular these days, but in reality are kind of dorky (or at least were when I was growing up)?  Well, it probably doesn’t jive with it at all, so don’t worry your pretty little head about it.

Being a good friend was always a top priority in my life, although I was often not very good at it!  But I’m sure that you all had some juicy ‘I’m choosing myself over my friends’ moment in your life too, so wipe that smug little expression off your faces!  Dang it…I’m getting all worked up already…sorry, about that!  {Exhale….inhale….exhale…inhale…}  Anyway…I can look back on my life and categorize it in many different ways; by the boys I had crushes on (This category will take me from age 6 to 19 since there was NOT ONE SINGLE DAY in my childhood where I was not romantically interested in some random boy who happened to stumble my way or make the mistake of being friendly with me, therefore I deemed him potential boyfriend material.)  Other categories that could effectively provide a timeline for my life are various fashion trends that I insisted upon wearing, yet were actually awful on me, fast food favorite meals that I would eat nearly every lunch time in high school because we had 2 for 1 coupons out the wa-zoo and deciding on a new place to go would cause too much drama, and of course, who my pack of buds were, including the ultra-important role of BFF.

Now, I have to say that I think today’s use of the ‘BFF’ phrase does not carry the same weight as it did when I was a kid.  When I was a kid and had a BFF, it was similar to a blood-pact or pirate code…this was something you DID NOT break!  I remember when my friend Monica DTR’d the Best Friend level of our relationship; we were playing with puffy paints in her room and making some Popsicle stick artwork.  She made a sign that said ‘Monica and Jenny – BFF’ or something to that affect, and I was STOKED!  Here was a girl who was 2 years older than me (which when you are talking about the ages of 10 and 12, the difference might as well be 20 years!), she was from the exotic lo-cal of Long Island, New York, super-tan and cool!  She was well aware of my fear of loud-barking dogs and my annoying tendency to throw up in her parents’ car whenever they took me with them on vacation.  Yet she still had chosen to knight me as her BFF…Heavy!  I knew that this was not a role to be taken lightly, and proceeded to do all sorts of dumb things in order to maintain my select status like eating some three-leaf clover grass out of her front yard because she dared me to or shave my side-burns because she said if was the cool thing to do.  Man, that was bad!  I was exclusive in my BFF relationship until Jr. High came along.  I was 12 and Monica was 14 and in high school.  We still lived in the same neighborhood, which is always a dominating factor in most youthful friendships, but having a best bud who I saw every day and could talk to me about boys my age seemed to be like something I needed.  I decided to anoint my friend Jaime (not spelled the normal way ‘J-A-M-I-E’, because she indeed, was better than that normal old spelling) to the role.  Monica retained her BFF role, but more as a ‘Lifetime Achievement’ kind of way, meaning, she could call on her BFF role and influence anytime she wanted to, but it was most likely going to be Jaime who would be my day-to-day, go-to gal.

And what a go-to gal she was!  My dear friend, Jaime was uber-cool!  I kept the trend going where I opted for a best friend who was way cooler/prettier/popular than I was, and it helped keep me afloat in those formative Jr. High years.  She was WAY more knowledgeable about boys than I was, yet didn’t hold it over my head in a big-sister type of way like Monica could.  (One time Monica and I saw the term ORGASM in a magazine and when I asked her what it meant, she told me to go ask my mom.  I’m not sure if my mother ever recovered from that conversation and I have blocked out all recollection of what her answer actually was, but I always knew Monica probably already knew the answer, and that she just wanted to see if I would embarrass myself or not.  Jaime was probably the safer person to ask from then on.  Seriously, some of the stuff Jaime told me about when I was 12 was very informative and accurate.  We’ll just leave it at that.)  Jaime and I stuck together through all sorts of cheerleading/boy/getting-grounded drama that comes along with a Jr. High friendship; even through the great tragedy of the cheerleading debacle of 1993.  I had been cheering all throughout Jr. High (sorta), but then only made the JV squad my freshman year, whereas Jaime had never cheered on a squad and was selected to the Varsity squad.  Mind you, Jaime was a PHENOMANAL cheerleader and I was always one of the ‘no talent, but a lot of heart’ kind of cheerleaders.  She totally deserved to be on that varsity squad, but I was bummed we couldn’t be doing it together.  In a very small school, doing things together is just kind of expected, I guess.  You eat lunch in the same place, same time, same food, same friends, blah, blah, blah…you expected that you’d be cheering in the same outfits for the same boys, too.

And yes, I reference BOYS up there, even though we also cheered for the girls’ teams too.  Let’s be real here…the average hormonally charged high school girl is going to enjoy cheering / drooling over a hot and sweaty boys team, versus the girls sports teams who were actually pretty rude to you since they thought what you were doing was a joke of a sport anyway.  Was our squad on the ‘cheerleading as a sport’ level?  Ha ha ha….no, oh man….no!  Not unless squeezing yourself into a tiny spot on the basketball court while avoiding any out of bounds balls from knocking you in the back of your head while you turned around to talk to another cheerleader behind you was considered athletic!  Now Jaime was athletic!  So was Tracy.  She could kick you in some scary karate-way that had me greatly intimidated!  But I was only marginally qualified for the athletic portion of cheering, and instead focused on the more literal side of it: cheering on other people.  I loved the times when we would write encouraging notes to the other team’s cheerleaders and bring snack over to them; I loved painting signs for all the football players and surprising them by hanging them up at their houses on the eve before the big game.  I loved getting to combine encouraging others with SHOUTING and being silly!  How fun is that?  I really felt that if we could just get the crowd stomping their feet and yelling along with us, that it could actually change the outcome of them game!  (I still kind of believe this, even though lots of players always told me they couldn’t hear us anyway.  Whatever…I still cheer like a lunatic when my kids run around and are competing in anything from a birthday party sack race to a random sprinkler running game.  I just want them to know that I think they are great and that they feel loved.  Same basic motivation I had for those teams we were cheering for, although my nonsensical obsessions over an unobtainable-crush were also big motivators at that time, as well!)

Anyway….cheerleading is what actually opened my eyes to another life-changing friend, Becky.  Her moving to my neighborhood when her parents originally split up was also a big help in creating the ‘BFF bond’ but Becky was a friend that I could count on.  Jaime had grown way too cool for our little Christian school and her parents put her in a scary (to me) public school in Palmdale.  There she got to cheer with other super-good cheerleaders and meet all sorts of boys that would never cross my radar at BCHS.  It was a perfectly natural BFF-break…and so there was Becky.

Now Becky was probably the friend who was the closest thing to ME than anyone I had ever met.  She was funny, stressed about boys not liking her (Jaime and Monica usually only had to deal with TOO MANY boys liking them…not a problem I had ever had to struggle with!)  Becky also was on my cheer squad, wore the same size clothes as me, and could sometimes be normally awkward, just like me!  But she was also very different too: she had the world’s most sensitive and delicate feet and could barely walk 2 feet outside without needing her crazy, well-loved garden clogs for support; she would stress and swoon over a boy for months (sometimes, years!) and when he started to pay attention to her, she would get so overly anxious, that she’d actually make herself ill and miss school!  Becky and I were often referred to as twins whenever we went into a store together, and we would NEVER be invited to a sleepover or movie without the other in tow, too. We drove to school together, ate lunch together, cheered together, watched TV on the phone while no one talked together…we just existed as a unit for many years.

Then we jump to college.  This was a HUGE jump in my life, since it relocated me away from the glories of Lancaster (high desert in LA county) to Chico (the great unknown beyond that was ‘Northern California’!)  I had come to Northern California once with Casey and his mom.  (Doesn’t everyone go on summer vacation with their boyfriend and his mom?  It really didn’t seem weird then….) Casey’s grandma lived at Lake Almanor and so the summer before our junior year, we stayed there and had a blast for a week playing in the lake, riding around in his little fishing boat, playing on some rented Ski-Doos…it was a blast!  His grandma had a framed picture of us that we had taken at Olan Mills in her living room.  Northern California seemed like the geographical destination of my future.  Ah….but who knew then what would really get me here?  But I digress, as usual, from my original train of thought.  My husband is used to it, although I’m sure he earns his treasures in heaven by daily listening to me talk about one thing and then end up wandering off verbally, like a mental patient, and end up talking about something completely unrelated.  Poor guy!

Anyway…the last time I ever used the BFF phrase that I personally held very sacred, was with my friend Becky.  Even though we ceased to be those when I went away to school, got married, etc, I have never met anyone who was like her.  I’ve had lots of friends come and go who have influenced my life since my friendship with Becky, but I have made some kind of internal pact never to use the phrase again.  The mold was broken with her and her life-changing friendship, and it just doesn’t seem them same to bestow it on anyone else.  Sure, I know that many people refer to their spouse as their best friend, and I think Dave and I may have said that a few times, but as far as an exalted gal-pal…there will probably never be someone like my dear, Becky, and that simultaneously bums me out slash is ok, at the same time.

FAST FORWARD 14 YEARS…

When Dave and I got married, other people constantly surrounded us, whether it was from church, young marrieds’ group, my husband’s band (God-Bless those Seven Dollar Jacket days!) or youth ministry.  And Dave and I loved it!  Friends changed, as we were put in different circumstances or jobs, but the theme of constantly having friends around seemed to be just part of our lives.  Now, when our two kids came along, things shifted dramatically; those friends who had similarly aged kiddos gained a larger portion of our hang-out times, and those who had no kids, seemed to slip into the background.  I’m not sure if this is normal, natural, or whatever, but I think it’s a bummer.  Just because you don’t have any kids and we do, doesn’t mean I don’t still like spending time with you.  I assuming this has happened to a lot of people; this progression of friendships where they kind of drift away after kids, and I think it’s often a mutual thing.  When I was a kid-less person, it was hard to be around all my friends with growing pregnant bellies and households.  Usually because talking about babies, babies and more babies dominated the conversation.  Those dominated my conversations at home too, but since Dave and I were dealing with infertility issues, they were usually a tad different than my other young married friends.  It became really hard to be around them at times, but it wasn’t their fault we couldn’t get pregnant, and we still really liked them, so we hung around.  We had friends who also had zero-kids and we often hung out together.  I still see them occasionally, even though they moved away, and I will always think about our early-married days together in a good way!  Even with miles in between us, the four of us can usually get together and have fun times and genuine talks about, pretty much, anything.  I’m finding that these are rare with other friendships lately…..

Oh there’s plenty more to my ramblings, but you’ll have to check it out in part 2.  Take a breather then come on back for more!  See ya!

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About Jenny Z

I love to overuse italics, misplaced hyphens and internal dialogue when I write about my usual favorite topic, myself.

5 responses »

  1. Once again Jenny, you amaze even a 70-year old man with your ability to write so well and express your thoughts and feelings in such an interesting way. I will read part 2 very soon. Keep it up. I don’t know how the blogging works, but I hope you are getting out to more people than are on your Facebook.

    Reply
  2. Okay so it is late at night. That’s my excuse for saying what I think and using way too many figures of speech. Here goes:
    1. Every one of your reasons for reading your blog is spot-on hilarious.
    2. That natural separation from friends when kids come along is painful even years after the separation occurs.
    3. I agree with Mr. Hankins. In your writing yo have a gift for ‘cutting to the chase.’ You handle sensitive situations with humor and warmth.

    Reply
  3. you split it here?!?!?!?

    Reply

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