Friday, August 19, 2016

The Long Road of Memories

Me, Cynthia, Liza, and Kim: June 1988

Almost 30 years. That's how long we've known each other. Of whom do I speak? Well, I'll tell you.

 In September 1987 I started grade nine. We had just moved to Ottawa, I didn't know a soul, and my new school had close to 2000 kids. My grade nine class alone, had close to 900 kids; more kids than were at the junior high school I'd left behind in Victoria.

I floundered through my first day in a sweaty haze, never quite shedding the embarrassment of having my book bag on the lap of a  boy I didn't know for the bus ride to school. ( My bus was crazy full. 3 kids per seat, and those of us at the last stop, in the aisle. My bag had no choice but to cozy up to a stranger.)

I remember sitting on the front step of the school at lunch time, not being able to eat  because of the ever tightening knot in my stomach and wishing I was anywhere but there. Most of the kids had at least had tour of the school before they'd started, knew at least one other person, but I was hopelessly alone and often that day, completely figuratively and literally,  lost. It would have gone down as one of my worst days if it hadn't been for Liza.

After school both she and I stood outside the entrance closest to the office. She looked nice, and like me, lost. We started chatting, wondering out loud really, where on earth we went to catch the buses home. Through a series of quick questions, I discovered that like me, she was new to Ottawa and knew no one. I immediately clung to her like a life raft and desperate not to have my second day be like my first, asked her if we could hang out the next day.

As we made our way to where we thought the school buses might be, we saw Cynthia. She was in striped pink top and leaning on a wall. Liza introduced us. She and Cynthia were both a year older than me and had met in few classes earlier that day. Like Liza and I, Cynthia was new and knew no one.

We three then walked until we found the buses and that's where Liza introduced me to Kim. She was in grade nine, like me, but not new. However, she and Liza were on the same bus and became fast friends and often during my grade nine year, she would hang around with Liza, Cynthia, and I.  Come the next year, Cynthia and Liza moved, and Kim and I started to hang out on a regular basis.

So, why am I telling you this? Well the reason I'm sharing this tale is because high school is crazy. Friends come, friends go, friends become enemies one minute, best friends the next. I've stayed in touch with a few people from high school days and these three girls, the first people I became friends with on my first day of school almost 30 years ago are still in my life. They are still my friends.

Liza, I've not seen since 1990 and we had a gap of many years where we weren't in touch, but when I reconnected with her through social media 10 years ago, anyone listening to our long overdue phone conversation would never know it had been at least 10 years since we'd spoken.

Cynthia and I see each other every couple years. Her wonderful and talented daughter Kylah is my Goddaughter. When Cyn and I meet up, we fall right back into our friendship as if we lived next door to each other.

Kim is a world traveler. She comes back to Canada every few years but mostly lives abroad and travels more than anyone I know. She stays in touch though. Christmas cards and emails, visits here and there, including an amazing meet up in London, UK last fall.

And tomorrow, the two of us are going on a road trip. Kim is flying in from Ottawa and we are heading to PEI. Ever since she was very young, Kim has been an Anne of Green Gables fan. Red headed and spirited like Anne, Kim read all the books, collected souvenirs , and has an autographed picture from Megan Fallows, the actress who portrayed Anne in the mini series from the late 1980's, BUT she has never been to PEI. I've said to Kim, "I have picture in my hallway of you with a camel, standing in a desert in India. I can't believe you've never been to PEI."

To commemorate this occasion, to celebrate our friendship, I'm calling this the, "We've known each other for almost 30 years East Coast road trip." I'm beyond excited to share with my lovely friend the joys of the east coast, to be witness to watching her see places she's never seen, just as she watched me meet London and what in had to offer last October. It will be a week making memories with someone who has already been a part of so much of my life and I couldn't be happier.

And Liza and Cynthia? You're coming too.

Who's ready for a road trip??