All the “back to school” buzz this time of year reminds me of the many times I returned to school each fall. A friend of mine has a boy starting middle school, 6th grade.
I remember my first day of 6th grade. I was starting at a brand new school, going to public school for the first time, riding a bus, switching classrooms and using a locker–all for the first time. It was a bit nerve-wracking, but exciting.
My big high-school brother helped me find our bus in the confusing lineup after school, and even saved me a seat, I’ve never forgotten that.
My favorite memory though? Social studies. My least favorite teacher, ever. But that first day? She told us to get the name and number of the person next to us, homework buddies or something like that. All around me, kids began chatting with their friends and I remember feeling pretty alone. But I turned to the girl behind me and said something like, “Well, I guess we need to trade phone numbers.” She told me her name was Laura. She even offered to help me find our gym class the next period.
That day was the beginning of a wonderful friendship that lasted all seven years we were in school together. Laura and I were inseparable. We did everything together for seven years. It’s a friendship I cherish with hundreds of memories.
I have struggled at times, knowing that our lives have headed in separate directions since then. We kept up fairly well during college, visiting at least once every summer. But since then, we’ve hardly spoken. In my mind, I immediately begin to wonder if our friendship really meant as much as I believed. But then I remind myself that relationships are living things–they change and evolve and grow, wax and wane, come and go. And none of that determines the worth of those moments spent fully present with each other.
Even though Laura and I haven’t spoken much in the past five or six years, I know that she reflects as fondly on our years together as I do. I know that we shaped each other, molded each other, reflected each other. I know that she was part of my becoming who I am, and I believe I was for her as well. In that way, I carry her friendship with me. And that is a truth I will always cherish.
Back to school…