Tuesday, August 31, 2010

to my bff

Today is my BFF's birthday.  That makes her older than me!  We go way back, me and my BFF.  Back to before we were friends. 

We went to the same Catholic elementary school back in the early 70's.  Her grandmother taught me 3rd grade, so that made her somewhat of a celebrity in our third grade world.  So I knew her, but she didn't know me.  We were in the same fourth grade math class.  We were grouped by ability in those days, and we were in the "high" group.  Sr. Agnes would just let us work our way through the math books.  Those were the days....  When we would get to the end of a lesson, we would get one of the teacher's manuals and check our work.  If we had any questions, I guess we would ask. 

One day, though, a girl named Michelle decided to take a shortcut.  Instead of doing those thought-provoking questions at the end of each lesson, she just copied from the teacher's manual, "Answers May Vary".  Apparently Sr. Agnes decided to do some spot-checking because one day we heard, "ANSWERS MAY VARY!!!  WHAT DO YOU MEAN - ANSWERS MAY VARY!!???"  Oh my!  That is a day that lived on in both of our memories for a good 30 + years.

BFF left our school after fourth grade, though, to enter the dreaded world of .....public school.

Fast forward four or five years.  We ended up at the same high school - a magnet school far from either of our homes.  Last time I visited her, I asked if she remembered how we met.  Our memories there differed.  I can distinctly remember standing on the steps of church one evening after CCD - probably after our first class in 9th grade because most classes were held at someone's house - and striking up a conversation.  Perhaps we realized that we went to the same school. 

She remembered that our freshman homeroom classes were next door to each other. 

In any case, we became good friends in high school.  We didn't live far from each other and I still remember her phone number.  We spent the night at each other's houses.  We both took piano lessons, though she is much more talented than I ever was.  She also played the flute and sang in the folk group at church.  She swam; I was allergic to chlorine.   I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher; she had no idea what she wanted to "be". 

I was a Girl Scout  During our senior year, my troop planned the most awesome trip ever - a 3.5 week trip to the western US.  I convinced her to join Girl Scouts that year, and we shared a tent for those 3.5 weeks.  It was a great trip, and there were memories made that will last a life time, but after that trip, I was pretty sure that we would not be roommates.  ;-)

I moved about an hour away for college, but we always kept in touch.  She went to France for a year.  We wrote.  When we graduated, I stayed in the hour away town, but she got a job in NYC.  We kept in touch.  I visited her there once.  She asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding.  And then she called it off.  She went back to school and got her MBA, and then moved to Kansas City.  We would see each other when she was home for Christmas - and maybe other times. 

I got married, and she was my bridesmaid - my only one.  My sister was my maid of honor.  I had a couple of children.  We kept in touch.  Visited at Christmas.  And then one Christmas - 1997, maybe - I think she told me that she was going to move to a monastery to see how being a nun fit.  I don't think I was too surprised.  Maybe she had told me she was thinking of this?? 

And so this is me and my BFF today.  Can you tell who is who??  Sometimes when people find out that my best friend is a nun, they ask me something like, "Was she a normal person?"  Ummm, pretty much.  We ate pizza together, typed research papers, had matching rainbow shirts in HS, checked out the cute guys, and watched Footloose and Return of the Jedi in the theater!!  She didn't wear a habit to high school. 

It is amazing sometimes how parallel our lives and the things in them seem to run.  I can email her and she will reply with something nearly the same that is happening in her life.  We have been lucky enough to visit several times in the past couple of years, but there have been years that have passed without a visit.  Years when our only communication has been email or snail mail.  But we have shared amazing things by email.  I remember in 2001, when I made my first confession in nearly a decade.  I think my BFF was probably the first person I shared that awesome experience with. 

Not many things last for 30+ years.  I have been so blessed to have this friendship.  Happy Birthday, Sister!

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