Sunday, July 08, 2007

Meet My Girls

After all my soul-searching this week, I have come to realize that some of the very best friends I have go way back to my childhood in Panama City, Florida. These are the girls I stayed with when we went to my recent 40th high school reunion. Yesterday I came up with an idea to “collect” pieces of our past and present and make a collage of photos for each of us.

Although FL and I go back to kindergarten, our earliest “group” shot was done in a 25-cent kiosk on Daytona Beach during the summer of 1966. We got 4 shots for $1, then snipped them apart so that each of us had one. According to the others, I was pissed that FL got the best picture, but then she turned around and gave us each a copy for Christmas. I seem to be the only one who still has that picture. We were in Daytona just for the day, driving over from Gainesville where we were staying in FL’s grandmother’s cottage on Swan Lake with an 80-year-old chaperone. My guy friends came down from Tallahassee to visit, bringing us a fifth of vodka and going skinny-dipping in the lake in the moonlight. I can only think that the chaperone was already asleep by then. It was a great summer when hormones were raging and we were all preparing to be seniors and graduate.

Here we are on graduation night posing in Mollie’s living room. Her Dad took the picture and then we each got a copy. I was too vain to wear my glasses, although I’m sure I needed them just as much as Ina did. We all looked like we had all the answers, when in fact we didn’t even know what the questions were.

Under those white graduation robes was a tiny felt daisy, symbolic of our chapter of YVA, Young Virgins of America, with the motto “Daisies never tell!” FL’s boyfriend John said the whole thing sucked, even though it was just in fun and girls who obviously were not eligible looked as us and grimaced, but what in the world did we care at age 17? We were soon enough going to discover that virginity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be anyway.

So fast-forward 40 years and you find the same 4 girls staying in a condo on precisely the spot where we used to drink beer on the beach when we were in high school. The white sand is just the same, the feet are the same size, but they are 40 years older and just a little tired.

And prior to the reunion itself, where were we? Of course, back in Mollie’s house posing in front of that same wall, but unfortunately her Dad was no longer around to take the picture. Instead my husband and her brother were the photographers, while her Mom beamed at how beautiful her daughter still is today.

Although we’ve gone our separate ways and had both good and not so good experiences, it takes only about 5 minutes for us to pick up where we left off. These are definitely my girls and I love them all so much!


Blogger Pauline said...

Knowing you have such good freinds surely must offset some of the disappointment in losing the other, though there's no harm in grieving for what you've lost - some trust, a friendship that obviously meant something to you, a bit of your sense of your own judgement...

This, too, shall pass - kindest words ever spoken.

6:54 AM  
Blogger Pauline said...

ooops - make that "friends"...

6:55 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- Those were exactly my thoughts. The friend I lost was indeed unique and I miss her terribly, but there is something so reassuring about these forever friends with whom I have shared so many experiences.

9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems the older we get, the more we realize the importance of long term bonds. I love you and cherish all the memories. When we were young I never thought about how things would be today. How fortunate that we are all still here, mostly healthy, mostly solvent and mostly cogent. Who knew you'd be the Blonde Phi Beta Kappa with an immensely important career and I'd just turn out to be a ditzy (blonde wanna be) grandma. I so love you. FL
PS: If you are passing out collages, do I need to remind you of my birth date?

9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time cannot change the friendship we four enjoy. Thank you for being our special friend - so talented, thoughtful and caring. Dave D. proved to be the icing on the cake by enduring (actually seemed to be enjoying) our "girls weekend". So many wonderful memories to bond us together and so many new adventures ahead....
(Just don't make me sit with the case of empty coke bottles under my feet on a long trip again - PLEASE!)
By the way, my Mom was beaming because she was enjoying her four beautiful daughters for whom she feels pride. M

12:29 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

FL -- I happen to know your birthday quite well. Hopefully you will receive a package well ahead of that date! (I'm still assembling.) Being a Grandma has to be more important than any career could ever be.

M -- David loved the attention of his PC harem. Your Mom is truly remarkable. I'm so glad at least one Mom was still alive to see us.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Marcy said...

Barbara -

How cool was this post! My mother once said to me, "Marcy, when you get older you will see that you will be able to count your true friends on one hand." I have a few friends, like you have in this picture, whom I've stayed in touch with for the last 27 years - looking at this makes me realize that I need to make the time and effort to stay in touch with them. These pictures are awesome - thanks for the gentle reminder [that you didn't even know you gave] to stay in touch better than I currently do! I lost my best friend from high school and college 2 years ago to Leukemia - I can't even tell you how it weighs on my mind that I didn't make a better effort to stay in touch - I took for granted that she would always be there for 'when I had the extra time' to call or drop a line to see how she was doing. :( Life's funny like that. Miss you here at work - it's kinda not the same anymore.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

It's amazing the people who stay in our lives and those who go. If I'd known in elementary school that I was meeting the best friends of my life, I wonder what (if anything) I might done differently.

6:14 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Marcy -- Love hearing from you. How funny that you were one of the last people I met at the office and one of the ones I most miss.

Yes, the lesson seems to be to live every moment as though it is your last, not putting off getting back in touch with those from the distant past. Our busy lives make that so hard to do.

Kristin -- I find your comment so interesting, because we never know just how any relationship will play out in the future. We simply have to invest in it whatever the present allows and hope for the best. Tell that to a second grader!

10:25 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

My kids at school think it's odd that I still exchange presents with my best friends from high school and see them often. I wonder what permanency this generation of kids will have when there is little of it even in their own families with break-ups and moving around so much to different schools? My prediction is that it won't happen much at all. Our generation was so lucky!

10:35 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MOI -- My daughter still has a small group of friends from high school much like my fearsome foursome. I think it will always be reassuring for people to look back and find something dependable like a friendship or two or three.

10:41 AM  
Blogger GEWELS said...

What a great post- great memories of good friends.

I wnet to a reunion of sorts this past Saturday as well- with all my old gang from high school. I'll ahve to write about that soon.

The women have definitely aged better than the men- I think we must have cut back on our drinking and drugs sooner than the guys! LOL! Plus, we can dye our gray!

11:17 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Gewels -- This kind of thing makes growing older more palatable. It seems that we girls are much more likely to keep a bevvy of good old friends than the guys are. In fact, one of my great guy friends from high school was expressing his envy that we girls have stuck together and he doesn't have a similar group of guy friends from high school. As for hair color, don't think for a moment that MANY of our male colleagues are not touching up the color of hair, beard, mustache -- you name it. They are just as vain, only a little more secretive sometimes.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Aileen said...

I love this post, because it's on one of my favorite topics.

You are so lucky to have such friends from your childhood. I was terrible at choosing friends when I was young. I don't think I had true friendships until college. But I've been thinking lately about those from my past that have meant most to me, and how great it would be to reconnect.

I think you've inspired me!

7:53 PM  

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