Remember that lunch I mentioned in passing a while back? No? Why ever not? Don’t you memorize every word I write? Well, I’ll remind you – I’ve turned into a social retard, I was going out for lunch with my oldest friend (oldest as in I’ve been friends with her the longest), we haven’t seen each other in a year, I was worried I’d forget how to speak because I’m a social retard and that’s kind of what we do. We shell up and die a little on the inside, all the while collecting sweat puddles in our palms and wondering why people want to be around us because we suck.
It turns out that, while some of my choices of friends in high school were questionable, I made a good decision to latch onto this one. She’s a talker, in a good way, which is an excellent pairing with my being a not-good-talker. I’m a good listener by default, but somehow she gets me speaking. And not in incoherent tongues; actual sentences with some semblance of proper structure and only the occasional stutter. I remember to ask follow-up questions, I only have to look away once in a while to collect my rambling thoughts, and I’m not embarrassed when I do actually occasionally stutter.
In college, we were inseparable. She was the one who drove. I was the one who…didn’t. She was the one with a huge head. I was the one with…an even bigger head. She was the one with short, thick hair. I was the one with…short, thick hair. We didn’t look anything alike but we were both the same-ish height with the same-ish coloured hair and the same-ish build and most people didn’t know which one was which. It was just “Steph and Jen”. And we liked it that way.
We took the same things which normally wouldn’t be noteworthy, but we took a bit of a meandering path to get to our diplomas. We started out in journalism – I liked to write and I loved to edit other people’s work; she liked to talk to people. We both realized it wasn’t for us – I didn’t like talking to people and she just changed her mind – so we opted out (fancy for “quit”). She lasted a semester longer than I did; I took General Arts & Science in the meantime because I was worried that if I left school all together, I wouldn’t come back.
When it came time to choose a different path, I took her lead. I had (have) no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I just knew I had to do something. Business seemed safe, and human resources made sense. In good economic times, companies need people to do their hiring. In bad economic times, someone has to do the firing. What did we know? We were kids.
But after school was done and we both had met our future husbands, we grew apart. By way of geography, not by choice. I was her Maid of Honour and she was my very-pregnant bridesmaid, but even then it was fading. Obviously I knew she was where she needed and wanted to be for herself and for her future, but I knew what we had as “Steph and Jen” was over. It was sad, but it was also a part of life. An unfortunate part of growing up.
When she was gone, and my other school friends were long gone, I felt partly alone. I had my family, who I’m lucky are so great, and of course I had AH, who I’m lucky makes a great friend. But any woman knows, there’s nothing the same as a girl friend. You can’t talk about the same things with your family as you can with a girl friend and husbands make horrible gossip cohorts.
We’ve done a terrible job at keeping properly connected. I blame myself. I suck at the phone, I’m bad at emailing, and I’m the worst at visiting. My excuses have been work and prior commitments and children who travel poorly (very, very poorly), but they’re just excuses. I should have put forth more of an effort. What we had as best friends was worth more of an effort.
Today was the first time since she moved away that we had a “date”. She’s visited a few times, but there were children and husbands involved and it just wasn’t the same. Today was just us over Tex Mex, talking about things we should already know about each other – how our families are doing, trips we’ve taken, what her house looks like – shopping, laughing like we used to. It made me miss what could have been if she had raised her family here or if I wasn’t such a crappy friend and visited her at all, let alone more often. It made me miss what never was, like someone to see each other through pregnancies and child-birth and help move into new homes and calm nerves when starting new jobs.
Steph was ok all these years. She makes friends in a snap. But I don’t. For years, before I met Carly, I didn’t have anyone but AH and my family (thank God for them). It would have been nice to have a friend. I should have made sure I had a friend.