Thursday, January 25, 2007

Watercolor Friendships

When I was going from 7th to 8th grade I had to transfer schools. I had gone to the same school district since kindergarten and now in the middle of my junior high school years I was transferring to a new school. To make matters worse, it was the biggest rival of my former school.
I went in and registered for school fearful that I would be looked at as a pariah by my classmates. After I finished the registration process the lady told me that there was another student that had transferred in from my former school. She told me the other students name, which I didn’t recognize, and suggested that we get in contact with each other.
We found each other within the first few days of school and felt an instant bond with each other as we both felt like outsiders. Lisa was beautiful with bright red hair and big blue eyes. She and I became the best of friends and it turned out to be a friendship that would last for years.
My fears of being a pariah were unfounded and Lisa and I found a niche of great friends that we ate lunch with every day and we changed our schedules around so that we could take a few classes together.
We only lived 4 or 5 blocks from each other so we would meet at the same bus stop and ride to and from school together. We were just barely teenagers and we would pour over fashion magazines and talk about who we had a crush on that week in school.
It was the most defining friendship that I had in all of the years that I was in school. Lisa was the girl that I could tell my secrets to and we talked about everything. Lisa knew more about fashion and makeup than I did so I learned a lot from her in that aspect.
Although neither of our families were rich, her grandmother was very fashionable and since Lisa wore the same size she had really awesome clothes and was always in style. I did the best with what I had but in no way would I have been considered as trendy.
I was only in that school district for that one year. My mom married during that summer and we moved away. I kept in touch with Lisa but it was difficult since we were long distance and in the 80’s there was no email and no one had cell phones.
We would write to each other and call sometimes. I was able to come down every few months or so and visit and even came down one summer and stayed with my grandmother (who was in the same town) which made for the best summer I have ever had in my life.
When I was a senior in High School Lisa was having trouble at home. I can’t really remember what it was but there was an issue with her family about who she was dating. He was in the military and African American. I don’t know what they had a problem with but Lisa was young and in love and I lived only 20 minutes away from where her boyfriend lived so she came and stayed with my family, transferring schools and we became roommates.
It was great at first but she would be gone a lot spending time with her boyfriend. We had changed a bit since our Junior High days and it seemed like we didn’t have quite so much in common.
After we graduated she moved in with her boyfriend and we saw each other sometimes but she was busy with her boyfriend and his kids, working and living life. I was busy working and had another friend that I spent more time with because we were both young, single and had no kids. I never really thought about it but I wonder if Lisa felt that I had abandoned her. For a long time I felt that she had kind of abandoned me so I tried to move on but I missed her a lot.
She ended up moving away with her boyfriend to Louisiana (I think) and his kids. We would talk on the phone every once in a while but it wasn’t like before when we would talk for hours about whatever came to mind. It became a bit strained and after a while it would be maybe a phone call once or twice per year. Then it stopped all together.
About a year and a half ago I starting thinking about Lisa and how much I missed our friendship. I called the last phone number that I had for her (which was about 3 years old) and someone answered the phone and said that she didn’t know who Lisa was.
I went online looking for her. Although she had moved out of state I thought that there might be a chance that she had moved back to Washington. I found someone with her name in Washougal, WA. I decided to call and figured that if it was the wrong person that at least I had made an effort.
A woman answered the phone and I was really nervous so my explanation spilled out of my mouth in a jumble. The woman responded with “Hi Rach. It’s me.” I felt joy well up that I had found her and relief that I didn’t make too much of a fool of myself.
We talked for a while and caught up on what had happened with each others lives. She was working full time and going to school full time and I had just happened to catch her on a rare night at home.
She was in college to do something in the medical field (I can’t remember what it was) and was engaged to a man who lived about 20 minutes away from where we grew up. He had 2 kids and she talked about them too. I talked to her about D and what life was like in Michigan.
I felt confident that we were going to revive our friendship and that now that we had re-connected that we would keep in touch. Lisa sent me a card with a photo of her and her fiancée and his kids along with a note stating that the best way to get ahold of her was by email since she was gone so much.
I emailed her a few times but got no response. Then I called her a few times and she never called back. I figured that she was busy and that she would call me or email me when she had time. I haven’t heard from her since and our friendship has faded away once again.
I miss Lisa. I miss talking to her. I miss having someone to call that has known me for over 20 years. I remember her birthday every year since she is only 11 days younger than I am and wish her a happy birthday to the clouds hoping that she can feel it.
I think about her sister and brother and wonder how they are doing. Is her sister still in the Air Force? What happened to her brother? How are her parents and grandparents? I feel like I lost part of my extended family. I cared about them because they were Lisa’s family. I hope that they are all doing OK.
When I think of my friendship with Lisa I picture a watercolor painting. It starts out vibrant and colorful but over time the colors fade to a warm memory of what they used to be. The picture isn’t any less beautiful but over time has faded and has less of an impact.
My friend Anne’s life had changed significantly in the past year and a half. She has gotten married, had a child, works full time and attends college. Her plate is over flowing and she just doesn’t have time to hang out like she used to. We both try to make sure that we stay connected so that our friendship doesn’t turn into a faded watercolor painting too.
I cherish my friendships and I hate to see any of them fall to the wayside due to neglect, life changes or tragedy. I do my best to try and keep in touch with the people that I care about but sometimes life gets in the way and you realize that you haven’t taken the time lately to see how your extended friends are.
I went online last night trying to find Lisa. She has married and I was able to find her new last name by doing a people search combined with the name of her high school. I found a phone number for her under her husband’s name and tried to call it. It was disconnected. It did give me an address as well so I have decided that I am going to send her a letter and try to renew our friendship one more time.


reformattingmybrain said...

You always have such wonderful heartfelt posts Rachel! I love them. I've had friends that have moved away or we've moved on because our lives are so different and we haven't been able to keep in touch like we promise. It's hard to keep friendships alive when you're not in the same town. Heck I don't even see my friends in the same town very often. In fact the last time I saw my friend here in town was about 6 months ago and we live about 5 blocks away from each other. Life gets busy and we spend all our time worrying about our husbands and kids. We do stay in touch via email. It's kinda pathetic that we haven't seen each other for so long and live so close. Maybe we're just not trying hard enough :-(

Dennis said...

There are a few people that I have lost contact with throughout the years but never a best friend. I often wonder where different people are and what has happened to them. Never have spent the time looking for them though.

Erica said...

This has happened to me twice, so I know how you feel. The last time it was a friendship that lasted many important years and we lost touch when she moved back to Italy and I stayed in London. After a few failed attempts by my side to reconnect, I understood she didn't really care anymore, she had a different life and wanted to forget her past life.

The first time it happened it was different: I have never actually managed to get in touch with my best friend from school - I wonder how is she and what she does now - I have the of her parents, but I have no courage to call it at all.

I hope Lisa will come back to you, otherwise you can just look at her as a big part of you that's gone, but that will always be in your heart. Have you tried giving her your blog name, maybe she will so much enjoy getting to know you again!

Countersteer said...

Auuugh!! Heartstrings - pulling - tight - gonna snap, ah hell.

(wipe wipe) Okay you made me well up, but since it didn't actually spill over my eyelid its not considered actually crying.

if only we knew at the time of parting that we would miss our friends....

Rachel said...

Reformat ~ Keeping in touch with your friends is hard work and sometimes it is too easy to put it aside when you think about it because there is something more pressing to do.
I try to always call when I think about it so that it doesn't end up being another month before I do anything about it.

Dennis ~ Best friends are hard to find. Losing them is really hard.

Erica ~ I hope that you work up the courage to call the phone# and find your friend. She might be thinking about you too.

Countersteer ~ Hindsight is absolutely 20/20. I am sure that I probably messed up a few friendships myself. The only friendship that I truly miss is the one that I had with Lisa.

Tara said...

I've lost contact with a few people in my life. We'd find each other only to lose contact again. My best friend in high school did track me down a few years ago, and that's when I discovered "Blogger" too. She has a blog called "You Learn Something New Everyday" but I have her on my list as "Sarah's Wisdom". She wrote a whole post on how she was trying to find me! It was such a cool way of reuniting! I wish you luck with trying to stay in contact with your friend, Rachel. It doesn't sound like it's been easy.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

I agree that it's tempting to want to keep trying. It's hard when you get your hopes up and it doesn't happen. Been there, done that.

Beth said...

Ah, Rachel, I can identify here...I went to five different schools before I graduated, and the last move was six WEEKS before my junior year in high school ended. Yep. And my new school was the one who had beaten my school's perfect football season, the LAST game of the season, for the preceding three years.

Saddest thing for me was that I tried really hard to fit in at my new one: played in the band, sang in the choir, wrote for the city newspaper as a student journalist, and worked at the same place my new friends did. When I married, several of the new friends were among my bridesmaids.

But when I went back to my first class reunion, I sat next to the boy I'd played cards with EVERY morning of our senior year. He didn't recognize me, which was okay since I'd been such a mouse in high school and now looked radically different....but when I told him who I was he said, 'oh yeah, weren't you that new girl?'

I pass through a lot of towns where I used to live and I feel pulled to every one. I feel as if there'll be my ten year old self walking up the hill to church for my Girl Scout meeting. Or here in another town I should see my 12 year old self heading off to deliver newspapers.

My husband is the lucky one; I've always wished I could say I'd gone to school with the same group of kids from kindergarten through 12th grade. And unfortunately, my daughter is in 1st grade and has already been the new girl THREE times.

I hope you can reconnect with Lisa the way you want to. I know that I am always seeking parts of my past while determined to live in my present.

Lydia said...

I hope you are successful in making contact with Lisa and perhaps re-establishing your friendship. But if it doesn't work out you have tried, and that's probably more than a lot of people do when they start wondering where old friends are and how they're doing. And it sounds like you have the memories of a wonderful friendship when it was at its most powerful, and those are something to cherish.

Rachel said...

Tara ~ That is awesome. I love that you reconnected with your best friend from high school.
I found a myspace page for Lisa and although I swore I would never sign up for it I did, just so that I could send her a message.
I haven't heard anything yet( and it shows that she hasn't logged in) but I found another friend from school and we have emailed each other a couple of times already. It is kinda like a free

SML ~ I think that this will be my last real effort. If I find her and then things fizzle again I doubt I will try anymore.

Beth ~ I lived in the same house for the first 8 years of my schooling. After that I went to 3 subsequent school districts. My son has been in 3 different schools already - 2 different school districts. I am hoping that he will be in his current one for a while. I drive him there but both his grandfather and dad live in that school district.

Lydia ~ I can't think of my 8th grade year or high school without thinking about Lisa. 8th grade was hands down my absolute favorite school year. I thrived there and was so sad when I had to move away. I tried to convince my mom to let me live with my grandmother but she said no.

l.b. said...

This post made me think about a couple of people that I have managed to reconnect with in the years since high school. It can be such an effort to stay in touch when someone is no longer a part of your day to day life, but like you I think it is totally worth it.

Tara said...

Do you still have your MySpace profile? I have one too! I'll look for you if you are still on there!

Rachel said... is
I know. I am really inventive with the userid huh?

Robert said...

I am so moved much u treasure friendship That I could make out while reading it...u r such a lovely friend and I dont know why Lisa stopped contacting u...she is a lady and may be her fiancee doesnt want her to keep in touch with male friends...may be she doesnt want to hamper her private life for friends...I dont know what friendship means to her nut I can feel every emotion u r holding in ur heart for her and ur sure some day she will realize and would definitely try to get in touch with u for some exchange of life's issues if not for a lifetime friendship...goodluck dear and u can send her a cute ecard also from my blog if u wishes :)