Occasionally on Fridays, I post stories of friendship–mine and others’. Today is a story from a former co-worker, Beth Heldebrandt. She was my boss, technically but she wasn’t bossy and we sometimes had lunch together, so she felt more like a friend. Read what Beth has to say about friendship! (And if you’d like to share your own story, send me an email: lmbartelt (at) gmail (dot) com.)
I can’t remember the day we met because my memory doesn’t go back that far, but I know that it was just after I had proudly learned how to tie my shoes. Dawn, Beth and I were three of the 10 girls in our small Catholic school kindergarten class (there were 16 kids in the class total, and three of us were named “Beth”). That was more than 40 years ago (40!), but as the saying goes, the more things (and people) change, the more they stay the same.
I was reminded of that phrase a few times recently when the three of us drove to the East Coast (and beyond) to spend a week in a beach house at Hatteras Island, N.C. I think we all had our moments of nerves in the weeks leading up to the trip. While I had spent time with each of them over the years, the three of us hadn’t spent any measurable time together since college. And now we were going to spend an entire week together? And more than 35 hours in a car?
“It’s the same old Beth,” I told Dawn when she expressed her excitement and anxiety a week or so before the trip. “It’s the same old Dawn,” I told Beth, in turn. But, I admit, I also wondered how our adult personalities would mesh on such a trip. I thought, “Am I the same old Beth, too?” I didn’t think so.
Let’s face it, a lot has happened to us in 40 years – career changes, moves, marriages, divorces, births, child rearing, deaths, and all of the joys and stresses in between.
But in the end, I was right about one thing – life had certainly changed each of us, but deep down, we were still the same.
Within a few hours of the trip I felt that our old friendships had re-formed, and the past four decades were a blur. Despite all the curveballs that life had thrown us, we were still the same people at the core. The morning person was still a morning person. The night owls were still night owls. We were (in turn) bossy, sassy, anxious and moody.
But with Dawn and Beth, there was no need to be polite – we simply called each other on our issues the way lifetime friends can (and we took advantage of plenty of alone time, too!). We bickered and debated and laughed – and by mid-week we all admitted to feeling more relaxed than we could last remember.
A trip like this is full of reminiscing, together and on our own. Dawn, Beth and I were classmates through high school graduation, and then Dawn and I were roommates for four years of college. I remember Beth coming to visit us at our college and us going to visit her.
I remember having my first sleepover at Dawn’s house and being confused when I met her mom because I’d never seen a pregnant woman before.
I remember Beth and I shopping for prom dresses and having to be careful choosing the color because we were both dating boys with red hair.
We played basketball together. We were cheerleaders together. We were in clubs together and hung out on the weekends. We double-dated, drove each other’s cars and broke plenty of rules as teenagers.
We’ll always have the shared fear of Sister Clementine (gasp!), the hours spent cruising Main Street (gas 99 cents a gallon!) and the music of Meat Loaf (“Paradise by the Dashboard Light”!).
The memories are endless, and I’m proud that we now have new ones.