I grew up in a small town. A place where there is one elementary school and one high school. There’s not even a middle school. You’re stuck with people there. It’s a place where you can look at your class picture and name everyone in it. To be honest… it was amazing. I have friends that have been in my life for over 30 years.
But there are a certain few from way back when who are extra close to my heart. Three to be exact. My best friends from my past are still my very best friends today.
Don’t get me wrong, I cherish all of my friends, and I’ve met so many amazing people in college, grad school, and now as I raise my kids – people I rely on and have deep connections with.
But for some reason these three are on a whole other level. I’ve never really put much thought into it before now and I’ve completely taken our friendship for granted. But there are real, deep reasons that my childhood friends are still my best friends.
We’ve been through a lot. Good or bad, we were all there when it was time to leave our small town to go to college (we all went to different states), we’ve stood up for each other at our weddings, and we’ve been through the highest highs and the lowest lows together. And we do it together. We’ve been through the deaths of parents, siblings, grandparents, and dogs (dog loss is REAL, yo). We’ve been through coming out, moving out, and making ends meet. Every one of these experiences binds us closer together while realizing how much we really do need each other.
They’re family. I’m an only child, but I’ve never felt like it. As an adult, I’ve never longed for siblings because I feel like I already have them. Uncle Nick, Auntie Missy, and Auntie Carlie are all common terms in my house. My kids know them no other way. My own parents would do anything for these guys that they’d do for me (sometimes more!). Growing up, my friends came on family vacations with me and were a constant face at the dinner table. They are my sisters (and brother) from another mother!
Nobody knows me like they know me. They know that I freak out when I see that it’s 9:17 (my birthday) on the clock. They know not to touch my belly button, to talk about belly buttons, or in any way to reference belly buttons. Ever. I know that if I accidentally touch Missy on one arm, she’s going to need me to touch her other arm so it’s even. I know that one certain phrase not to say to Carlie. And I’m pretty sure I can read Nick’s mind any place, any time. These kids know just what to say and when to say it. Because of this, I trust them with my heart, with my soul, and with my well-being.
They’re weird (just like me). I can’t believe I’m going to say this in public…here goes…
Growing up, we filmed VHS movies of ourselves acting out ridiculous situations, we started an intense college search when we were 15, and we played Trivial Pursuit like we were adults. We were even BFFs with our principal (shout-out to Heavy D!).
Now, we’re the grownup version of our weird little selves. We may or may not have had a recent flute/trumpet duet of our school song. Our favorite gathering may or may not be going to trivia night at the bar – and assuming we’ll win…which we have never done. We even re-took our senior pictures in the same pose we struck 20 years ago. #winning
My point is, these people push me to be fun, to be ridiculous, and to be a little out of my comfort zone. Because they can. I trust them. And they are weird.
It takes a village. I was the first of my closest friends to have kids. Our little group is still pretty sparse in that area but you’d never know it. My friends love my kids like they are their own. And my kids love them right back. Hard. My amazing friends have come to baptisms, figure skating competitions, outdoor hockey games, and endless birthday parties for my kids. They don’t know it, but every time they appear for one of these things my heart grows a little bigger. Words will never be able to express how much their presence means to me and my family. And when more and more little ones pop up, I am excited to welcome them to the family. Because we might not be related by blood, but we are connected by something stronger.
So there it is. All that is left to say is “thank you.” Thank you to the people who have made life worth living, to the friends who have been unwavering in their presence, and to the people I call my lifelong best friends.