Pasta Dinner

(Written Wednesday, forgot to post)

I often tell people that I made my first friends in 7th grade. I claim they were my first friends, and accepted me into their already-well established circle of friends, and I never felt lonely again.

Nice fairy tale, but not exactly true.

Yesterday I saw two of my closest friends from elementary school. DJ and LK.

DJ was the boy down the street. Back in the day my Mom didn't like his dirty mouth (apparently he taught me the F-word, the S-word and showed me the difference between boys and girls), but he was nicer to me than the snotty girl up the street, and I did his paper route with him every day for years. Today he's in his early 40s, living with his mom after a tragic car accident (he was unhurt) a few years ago.

I ran into him yesterday, and he seemed a bit disappointed with his life. After I told him sob-stories of other friends down on their luck, he said he felt much better. He, in turn, made me feel like I was uber-accomplished. He said he remembered me as being a good listener! Really? It's strange what we remember. We had a pact. If neither of us had a date to the 6th grade dance, we'd go together. I don't remember how it ended up.... and I didn't think to ask DJ.

The view from LK's house
LK was the bride at a fairy-tale wedding last year. She has four daughters (from a previous marriage) and is a nurse, although she stays-at-home full-time now. When I look back on my life in elementary school I remember myself as unpopular, and my homelife as complicated. My parents were older, un-hip and did not do what most parents did. My dad wasn't a jock, and my Mom didn't hang with a single one of the other Moms at my school. I blamed my "unpopularity" on my parents being weird. Which is why when LK described one of her happiest childhood memories as sleeping over at my house and waking up to my Mom having made her a birthday breakfast celebration, it reminded me that mine is revisionist history. I had a Mom who loved my friends, and I had friends who loved me! How did I forget how much LK meant to me, especially in my early years? Or how kind my Mom had been to her? We had similar interests: she played bass, I played cello and we both sang. We were in lots of classes together and for the most part we had friends in common (and we both disliked the snotty kids from our elementary school equally, but for different reasons).

Last night I remember what I loved most about LK growing up. When you are with her, she makes you feel special. I was jealous in high school of the attention she got from all the boys. She was a pretty cheerleader, curvy and flirtatious. I was loud, with frizzy hair and lots of pimples. She did better than me in school, sports (she was on the diving team, I didn't dare try anything) and music. We had a falling out (about a boy) and lost touch. I am so happy to see how well she is doing now. Her daughters are wonderful, her husband is very nice and her home is gorgeous. I know she has some health issues, but she seemed very well yesterday.

It was a wonderful evening to share time with friends, laughing about old times. It made me wonder about the impact I will have on my children's lives, and whether the friendships they are forming now will last for thirty years? Will their friends remember me yelling at them or will they remember kindness I showed them?

They have evidence of both... but I hope the pendulum falls on the side of kindness and love. And if it is a single memory they carry into their adulthood of what it was like at our house. I hope they remember it the way LK remembered us.


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