I clutched my brown paper bag lunch in my fist as I walked into the lunchroom. Most of the kids had a hot lunch, and those who didn’t had cool lunches with Wonder Bread, cookies, and chips. I had thick dry homemade bread, veggies, and fruit. I didn’t mind, but they seemed to. I was dressed in hand-me downs, always neat, always clean, but not the “right” brand or “in style.” I didn’t see why it mattered, but they thought it did. I dreaded sitting down at any one of those tables, my one and only friend was sick, I knew what would happen. I quietly slipped into a chair with as few girls as possible, and in silent exodus they all deserted.
I didn’t mind moving to Oregon, it was an exciting place with the beach nearby and opportunities to make new friends. Maybe things would be different on the other side of the country. I made friends quickly; I was even in with some of the “popular” kids in middle school. But then I made friends with the under-dog. Oops, what was I thinking? I decided I could care less about popularity. I made friends easily then; they would come and go. Mom would ask me about what happened to so-and-so and I would shrug and say, “They moved on.” I called myself the stepping stone friend, it wasn’t comfortable and I didn’t like it.
I liked moving on to high school (and especially college), bigger school and easier to hide and avoid the cliques and popularity contests. I finally had good solid friends. Music has blessed my life in more than just one aspect. I was so eager to leave the childish behavior of popularity and fashion behind. Eager to discover who I was and that I didn’t need to change me to please others. Learning and growing, I discovered people who actually knew me and liked me and didn’t just step on me on their way to bigger and better friends.
I still find myself surprised from time to time when someone wants to be my friend; a little amazed that I am someone they want to get to know. I have come to value close friends and find them to be few sometimes, though I have many acquaintances and casual friendships. My out going nature masking the timidity which I feel in social situations.
A friend of mine is moving away tomorrow. I haven’t even known her for a year, but sometimes there’s just a connection that spans a lifetime. They just slip into your life like they have always been there, just slightly in the shadows where you could not see. You know that person has made a difference in your life and you have made a difference in theirs. You’re sad to see them go but excited for their opportunities. Memories to cherish and dreams to forge; I am a greater person for having known this friend.
Life has a way of interrupting friendships. We become busy and neglect to write or call, and time passing can make things feel empty and awkward. I think of other dear friends that I have neglected, and I miss them. While it may be hard to track down and renew old friendships, one thing I make the effort to do is honor the friendships created today.