Mocha With Linda hosts a weekly meme called Flashback Friday. She’ll post a question every Thursday, and then Friday we can link our answers up on her site.
The prompt for today is:
Who was your first friend? Did you have lots of friends when you were growing up or just one or two close friends? Share memories from your childhood friends. For women, were “mean girls” an issue when you were growing up? Or were you a “mean girl”?! How did your friends shape who you are today, for good or not-so-good? Do you still keep up with your childhood friends today?
As I was growing up, I usually had one close friend rather than a whole gang. I had a good-sized circle of people I was friends with, but I didn’t hang around with a group.
My earliest friends and playmates were my cousins. I have hazy memories of playing with my parents’ friends’ children when they all came over, but my earliest memory of a close personal friend was in third grade. I had gone to a Lutheran parochial school in first and second grade and transferred to a public school for third grade. Cindy was one of those girls who was popular, but not in a snobby way and not with the negative connotations popularity can have today. Everyone liked her because she was genuinely sweet and interested in other people, and as such, she introduced herself to me, and we became fast friends. I still have a bracelet she gave me for Christmas one year. For a few months my siblings and I stayed with my aunt and uncle in another state when my parents were having problems, and Cindy’s letters were the highlight of my time there. She invited me to revival services at her church, where for the first time I understood I needed to trust Christ personally as my Savior rather than just having a nebulous general belief in God. I made a profession of salvation then, though I struggled with assurance for years before finally being settled in my faith. But whether I actually believed at that point or later on, those years at that church did much to set me in the right direction. Unfortunately I ruined that friendship with jealousy: Cindy’s pastor’s daughter, with whom she was also close, transferred to our school, and instead of welcoming and befriending her, I was jealous of Cindy’s attention and sad that things were not the same. 😦 So they pretty much dropped me, understandably, and I learned a hard, painful, but valuable lesson.
My closest friend for the next several years was Laura. I don’t remember how we met or got to know one another — we attended the same school for years and somehow must’ve crossed paths and continued on from there. We moved to another town when I was in 8th grade, and one of my best surprises was when Laura and her family showed up unexpectedly on our doorstep one day. They were on a trip and surprised both Laura and me by stopping in to see us for a few hours. We wrote, sent pictures, and kept up with each other through high school, but eventually the relationship just faded out over time.
The school system I went to in 8th through 10th grade was the one I’ve mentioned that was extremely cliquish. I had always been shy but had never had any problems making friends until that school. There were very distinct groups that rarely interacted with each other. I spent what seemed like months walking around at lunch time all alone and miserable. My mom had to practically push me out of the car in the mornings. Then one day Dawn and a neighbor of hers introduced themselves to me, and Dawn and I just clicked. Dawn’s parents ran a little convenience store that was close to my house, and they’d let me “hang out” with Dawn at the store and help her stock shelves. Her mom was one of those people who is so cheerful, she’s annoying. 🙂 It was awful to be awakened after staying up late talking on a sleepover by her cheery, “Good morning, girls!” and whisking open the curtains to flood us with sunlight when she thought it was time for us to be up. Dawn and I were fast friends throughout the rest of high school and kept up with each other for a few years in college, but then our lives went different directions and the friendship faded away.
That high school was the only school I attended with “mean girls.” One of the groups was probably the closest thing that town had to a gang, and the leader was a seemingly always angry girl named Nadine. You never wanted to be caught alone in a hallway with her. I don’t think she ever hurt anyone physically, but she was very intimidating verbally and in the way she carried herself.
Between 10th and 11th grade we once again moved to another town, and the Lord provided miraculously for me to attend a Christian school. It was small enough that we were all general friends with everybody, but I didn’t have one really close girl friend there. That may have been because I started dating a guy. There are many reasons not to date exclusively in high school, and one of them is that, depending on the relationship, it can hinder developing friendships with other people and put you into an unnaturally close relationship sooner than you’re ready for it. That was the case with me, anyway.
Then in college, again, though I had a wide variety of friends and could usually easily find someone to attend things with, talk with, or pray with, I didn’t have any seriously close friends. Somehow the people I felt closest to didn’t really “need” me as a friend — they had all kinds of friends, many closer than I was. But I eventually met my life-long best friend, my husband. 🙂
I think each of my friendships shaped me for the better. I hadn’t received instruction as a child in looking for the right kind of friends, but thankfully the Lord over-ruled and brought my way friends who generally wanted to do right, and generally we encouraged each other along the way. As I write that, though, I do remember being friends for a while with one girl in 11th grade who tended to be deceptive, and there was an instance or two of climbing out her bedroom window to go see people, but thankfully, for whatever reason, that friendship didn’t last long and nothing serious happened during it, so I am thankful the Lord nipped that in the bud.