Saturday, December 10, 2011

Why are your friendships in high school so powerful?

When I wrote Off Limits which is a story about a friendship that develops and grows between two very different girls it brought back what the word friendship meant to me in school. I had one best friend, a city girl who moved to the country and in grade five we became BFFs. Everything about her sparkled. She was like so cool because she used to live in the big city while I grew up in the country.

There was always this ‘other’ friend who hung around with us but I knew she was at the edge of our friendship because of her life and yes, I will say it, her looks. My best friend in high school was the cheerleader type – and yes we did that too in high school – think blonde, blue eyed and a figure I always envied. I was too skinny (wouldn’t I die to reclaim that now), flat chested and had (still have) frizzy hair. By the time we were in high school the friend on the edge was slightly overweight, wasn’t in our academic classes and never tried out for anything. Looking back I know why but it took me spending the night at her house to understand the depths of her life. I suspected she was being sexually abused by her step-father and while she hinted at things that couldn’t be said, I never came out and asked. But what could a 15 year-old kid do? She escaped her home life by getting married to an older man and didn’t finish high school. I totally lost contact, but never forgot her. I often wished I spoken more to her but people didn’t talk about things like that in my community and honestly, I’m fairly certain they still don’t.

And my best friend, I wish I could say the ordeals of high school didn’t rip us apart but they did. At 15 my best friend got pregnant. Her very Catholic mother, who at that time was going through a terrible divorce – they went from riches to rags overnight because of her father – helped her get an abortion – at the time her mom had five young children to deal with and no support. A year later my friend got pregnant again and not wanting to disappoint her mother, she and her boyfriend and my cousin at the time drove to Quebec so she could have an apportion without her mom finding out. I spent the weekend covering for her. I tried to put myself in her shoes and I couldn’t. While I had a boyfriend and yes, I was sexually active at the age of 16, I also went on the pill because I never wanted children (insert laugh here as I know have 4).

I wanted more than anything to escape my small fishing community and I knew going to university, continuing my education was key. Those two abortions deeply affected my BFF for life. I found out years later she was in counseling for her decisions. After high school, I went on to university and she went on to work full-time. Years later I married, she never did (even though I know that was her high school dream) and once I was settled in my life I had many children (she has had none).

I have often wished we could get together to chat about those days but I realize we will never be able to recapture what we had. I truly loved her. She was the girl I shared everything with. I told all about the feel of my first kiss what I aspired to be when I grew up. She was the girl whose house I’d go to when getting ready for a dance and we’d spend hours trying on clothing and doing make-up. She was the girl who showed me how to navigate the city on the weekends showing me it wasn’t all that scary. She was so smart and had such potential that I envisioned us both going to university, rooming together but that never happened.

Since those high school years I have had many other good friends but never have I had a friendship like I did with my BFF in high school. Why is that? Does it have to do with the changes going on in our lives? Does it have to do with all those ‘first’ memories we shared together? I’d like to know what you think. Drop me a comment and you could win a copy of Off Limits.


Tara MacQueen said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing so much about the good and bad in high school years. It's such a struggle to survive the school politics and be propelled into life by parents, teachers, friends, family etc. Great post!

PJ Sharon said...

I am still best friends with the girl I befriended when she moved into the neighborhood when we were in fifth grade. We've moved away and then back again and always seem to come back together. We are as different as can be and I think that's part of why we are drawn to one another. Opposites attract in all relationships. We need balance after all.

Renee Pace said...

Thanks Tara and PJ for your comments. I worry I'm pressuring my own kids to go on to university so I'm trying to be aware of that. I keep telling them friendships are important. I still miss my BFF and we live in the same city but never see each other.