So, after battling doctors and dentist visits, I have returned to my tiny corner of the internet to continue with my 30 Thoughts journey.
And thus, we have life lesson #4:
Friends will come and go, but the memories will last forever.
When I was in 11th grade, I ended up transferring to our county school, leaving behind 17 years of friends, traditions, and memories. In 2006, you were considered one of the cool kids if you possessed a cell phone, and by then telephones at home were becoming a thing in the past.
Guess who was not one of those “cool kids.”
When I left behind my friends at Galax High School, I lost contact. I didn’t have a way to call my friends to keep up with the latest gossip, or to make plans to hang out on the weekend. When I did get a chance to speak to one of them, I found myself no longer feeling like a part of the group of ragtag outcasts we had been since elementary and middle school. I felt more like a stranger looking in.
Soon, I found myself a part of another group. We connected through our love of Harry Potter first and foremost. Soon, we found out we had similar likes and formed a bond close to sisterhood. We had sleepovers that consisted of movie marathons and doing our own version of role-playing games in notebooks that have long been lost through moves. Day trips to Mount Airy or Christiansburg to shop or go to the movies or just have dinner were the norm for us. And as soon as I found myself feeling like I was part of something special, we were separated by graduation and college.
I took off the first semester after high school, in hopes of working and getting some kind of financial aid to even think about going to college. Those few months after high school felt similar to those months I felt after transferring schools. While I had (some) contacts with my friends who were away, I started to feel the same isolated feeling I had felt not two years before. This time, I didn’t have a new group to co-dependently lean on, and I lashed out. I became angry at my friends who were like sisters and didn’t understand how they could leave me behind. I became jealous of the new adventures and friends they made in school to the point I wanted nothing more to do with them.
It took a few snail-mail letters to get my head out of my ass.
That February, I was reunited with 2 out of 3 of my friends when I started Hollins University, and for the next 4 years we made more memories. When the chance arose, the fourth member of our sisterhood joined in our adventures. In our Hollins Bubble (as it was known), we added members to our group. We still had our bumps in the road; I struggled very hard with what I didn’t know at the time was my anxiety and became very co-dependent on my friends. The semester they went abroad to London while I stayed behind in Roanoke left me feeling the same feelings I had felt in the past. I isolated myself, fell behind in classes, and was a shell of myself.
During that semester, I spent a lot of time online and met a group of people through a RPG site I had made with a couple of online friends I had made a few years before. They became an escape from my reality. While it became an obsession and nearly got me kicked out of school, it was the countless hours I spent online playing characters I had created with this group of people that made understand my co-dependency on my friends who were so far away from home. I promised myself that I would work on that.
Also during that semester, I met some of the craziest and awesome people I’ve ever met. Little did I know at that time how close they would become to me. One of my friends from freshman year was on a specialty hall that specialized in all things fantasy and anime, and I started hanging out with them and helping with community events for the school paper. In my junior year, I was part of their group for a tradition at Hollins called Ring Night – which involved crazy skits and doing crazy demands for a weekend, led by a secret Senior Sister from the year ahead of us – it was in a way an initiation into our own Senior Year. It was the opening of the door that would lead to my senior year, as I offically joined the group at the end of the school year.
As my friends graduated in 2012, and started Graduate School, I was just beginning my senior year. Only this time, I was more confident to be left behind than I was a year and a half before when they had gone abroad. I wasn’t isolated from the world, but immersed into a group that was always busy. I was always involved in something, from running the school paper, to writing my Senior Thesis, and creating a new bond of siblinghood.
Along the way, the friends that I had so desperately clung to not even a year before started to fade and I started to begin to understand the other side of my outburtsts in the past. That first semester, I tried to balance all of my friends, trying not to leave anybody out. And as I got further into my senior year, I found myself leaning more into the present with those around me. It was easier to walk down the hall and hang out with somebody than to pick up the phone and send a text or email seeing how my other friends were doing.
I found myself not isolating myself, but isolating my friends from experiencing my senior year with me. And I regret doing that so much.
When I graduated in 2013 and found myself out in the world, maintaining those friendships became even harder. I’ve seen countless friends come and go. I’ve made the generic, “Oh, we should hang out soon!” message on Facebook, but never finding the opportunity to actually act upon that comment. Being an adult, I’ve learned, doesn’t leave us much opportunity to make the same kind of memories we did in college, no matter how hard we try. Sure, we have mini reunions here and there and Hollins gives us a chance to get together every 5 years, but it’s so different from being able to walk down the hall, or meet up on campus and have adventures.
That’s where the memories come in. It seems like yesterday I was having a water fight during our fun day on the last day of school in 7th Grade with my friends. Or that I was hiking up one of the hills behind my friend Charli’s house the summer before she, Bethany, and Deirdra went off to college, making our own version of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, with decorated candles and a sacred hat that we would pass to each other like the best friends in Ann Brashare’s series (I think we made it one year doing that). The countless Taco Bell trips made with our friend Sarah in college. Writing all the crazy lyrics and memorable quotes from A Very Potter Musical in the science computer lab with Shauna. Creating crazy scenarios with the characters we had created on our RPG site with Erika and Lizz and so many others. Screeching at midnight in the middle of a parking lot trying to kill a spider that had made it’s way into Bethany’s car when we were both terrified of the 8-legged little freaks. Spending hours on Lake George on our days off while in New York. Writing parodies of songs with MC in the library during our senior year. Making our sweded version of The Princess Bride with the Otaku gang. There’s so many for each group of my friends that I have made over the years, it’s impossible to narrow one down to an all time favorite.
You and your friends are going to go their separate ways. You’ll end up in different towns, states, countries. You’ll continue with your education or even settle down and get married. When the chance comes along, you’ll get together with a handful of those friends and make more memories. You’ll forget some of the things you did through the years, but the really important ones? Those will stick with you forever.