Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Make New Friends...

....but keep the old

One is silver and

The other's gold.

Remember that song?

Sorry if I'm stealing blog ideas again; several of my friends are blogging about friendship and I just had to add my two cents.

I've never been one to make friends easily. I think that my turbulent childhood caused me to be rather cautious when it comes to divilging confidences, and so I have a tendancy to be picky when it comes to choosing people to confide in.

I found out in my later elementary/junior high experience that boys were the best friends. Girls were too catty and too apt to switch loyalties. Not with my guy friends. They were way more supportive! However, this had a slight drawback: If my feelings toward them happened to change, how did one go about getting them to see me as a FEMALE, rather than 'just one of the guys'?

Fortunately, my first boyfriend felt the same way and told me first. Our 'romance' lasted four years, but actually was over in two. We finally admitted that yeah, we wanted to date other people, and decided to remain friends. But in high school, I was the new kid, and because I didn't want to repeat any past mistakes, I kept several girls at arm's length, remaining friendly, but not close.

My sophomore and junior years, my bff was J, and my guy friend, B. Also in my junior year, J introduced me to A, K, T, Tr, C, and R. Our group hung out at band practices, trips, and ball games. And since J was a year ahead of me, R, T, Tr, and K would be who I would have considered my 'best' friends, although only T, K, and I were the only seniors.

And B? We took a great deal of ribbing, even coming in 2nd as 'Cutest Couple' in the senior poll. I kept telling people weren't a couple, but no one was convinced. He and I were even 'married' in the hallway, so when he was eventually elected President of a club, his friends jokingly called me his 'First Lady'.

Fast-forward ten years.

At the first reunion, it seemed everyone seemed to be stuck in 'One-Up' mode.

"Look what I've accomplished."

"I need another drink."

"Here's pictures of my kids."

I would see several of my classmates, but would have zero interest in speaking to them. Probably because my self-identity was floundering: I was a wife, a mother of two, and was trying to be published. Job? I'd been a driver for a preschool, a babysitter, and waitress. But had I accomplished anything with my college degree? Not really.

And when the people I did want to talk to spoke to me, I was more interested in their lives than divulging my own, past introducing my spouse and producing pictures of my kids. In fact, I'd just given birth three weeks before, so the main topic surrounding me was a) the fact my body had quickly shrunk back to size and b) I had cleavage, since I was breast-feeding my daughter!

And I playfully admonished B when I hugged him goodbye, because he drew me in for another hug.

"Ooooh, you feel different! Why is that?"

"It's time to feed my daughter. That's why we're leaving."

He looked down.

"Wow! Let me see if I can slip my credit card in there!"

"Go back to your girlfriend and behave yourself!" I kissed him and walked out the door.

Fast-forward another ten years.

The 20th reunion was less about one-upmanship and more about catching up with everyone. My alter-ego was published by then, so I was more confident about myself and since business cards were no longer being thrown about like confetti, I was careful about handing out my own.

Several friends had married and had children by then, so we spoke more about their activities rather than our own. And to my surprise, more of the women were stay-at-home moms now, so we did have something in common again.

Now I'm looking forward to the 25th this year. I've now got three books published, plus I've been in contact with several classmates via FaceBook, one of which is the lead singer of a band out in San Francisco. She's also the one who nearly fell off her chair when I sent her a racy excerpt and exclaimed 'Sweet, innocent Kenzie wrote that?'

Yup. Blame college.

I'll talk about my college friends tomorrow.

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