Best Friendship: High School Style

As I mentioned on Thursday, my friend Callie was here over the weekend (until this morning in fact, as Irene kept her in Chicago an extra two days). As I also mentioned, we spent some quality time with our high school yearbook. Which was really a lesson in teenage angst. It all seemed so intense and important back then, didn’t it? Relationships, sports, parties? They all carried the weight of the world. And yes, so did friendships.

Instead of writing in each others’ yearbooks, seniors at my high school instead bought “personals,” printed classified ads for all the world to read. For the first time in ten years, Callie and I went back and read ours. Turns out I was musing about friendship long before this here book idea came to be. Here’s an excerpt:

“I can’t even fathom how our friendship came to be what it is today. Was it when I basically moved into your house in 9th grade? When I first realized my obsession with Chuckie? Was it when you decided that every time I was on the phone you should put on all of my clothing at once to get the attention you deserve? I think I knew that we had a friendship that was different from all others when I realized that we could finish each other’s sentences, read each other’s thoughts, understand our frustrations and fears, laugh at each other’s jokes. When we get into those moods together when we CANNOT stop laughing, those will always be my favorite memories. I can’t go a night without hearing your voice on the phone, I don’t know how I am supposed to survive not going to school together. But no matter what Cal, you will forever be my best friend and I mean that.”

Of course, there are some things to note here. 1) Why was it that in high school, even when we had friends over, we thought it ok to sit on the phone with other friends? Likely boys? That’s just rude and no wonder she put all my clothes on to distract me. And I wonder if this problem is solved today since kids don’t talk on the phone. Or do they just sit side by side texting other people all day? 2) There are moments where this sounds more like a co-dependent relationship than a friendship. “How am I supposed to survive”? Cut the melodrama, teenage Rachel.

But still, it’s kind of sweet that we are in fact still so close, isn’t it? That I had some knowledge back then that this was a keeper?

Here’s an excerpt of Callie’s to me:

“In eighth grade I saw you at our placement tests and I think that at that moment I knew that there was something special between us. Of course, I was too nervous to say anything so my parents had to introduce themselves. … After one little sleepover, the epic story of Callie and Rachel began. (I think I read a story about that once…) I don’t know how ‘best friends’ happen, I can’t recall when we made the decision, but it seems to me that after just one night we both knew what was in store. You mean more to me than it is possible for me to express, but never forget that I love you now and I will love you forever.”

These messages are exactly who we all were in high school, aren’t they? A little intense, more than a tad dramatic, but filled with an innocence and wonderment at what “forever” will bring. And these aren’t feelings easily expressed as an adult. It feels cheesy and melodramatic and just plain silly. When I read them, I’m half-embarrassed at our uber-sentimentality, and half-heartened by the fact that we were willing to so publicly ooh and ahh over our BFFship. Oh, high school. I wouldn’t go back for the world…. but some days, I would.

What do you think of our little notes? Were your high school friendships filled with this kind of intensity and drama? When you think back to your high school BFFships, what sticks out?

2 Comments

Filed under The Search

2 responses to “Best Friendship: High School Style

  1. Notes like these were totally normal at my high school, so don’t worry about the melodrama of them :) I don’t miss high school itself, because it wasn’t all that fun for me, but some of the friendships I had then were just awesome. We all loved each other, and we told each other that often. If I was having a bad day, I’d get cards taped to my locker to tell me to keep my chin up. As an adult, it feels like you have to really solicit that kind of encouragement and definitely those sorts of declarations of love and friendship. I wonder why that is.

  2. I not only think your relationship and testaments of commitment to one another is normal, it’s a rite of passage for the luckiest of us.
    High school is when our hormones and emotions are at their peak. Everything is “the most intense ever.”
    I have been looking through my yearbooks lately and reading what others wrote to me and while very flattering, so unrealistic. One friend wrote over my face, not hers. Coincidence, I think not.
    My steady spent the entire last page telling me how much he loved me and how he didn’t know how I was the best thing that ever happened to him. He had never told me in person.
    My co-cheerleaders dripped with sentimentality about certain games that were so close and we ended up on the basketball court holding our close friends who were the players and all crying together. My parents knew I needed to be with my friends. How did they know that?
    I don’t remember crying as much as I did that summer before college with my closest friends. Many from 5th grade. How were we going to live without checking what to wear and getting a pep talk before a date? None of us thought we’d survive. Those feelings are as alive as if they happened yesterday and it’s been almost 50 years since I graduated high school. I’m still Bffs with 3 of the same friends and for that I’m very grateful.
    We reminisce all the time and have gone to several reunions together. Nothing is like an old friend who helps recall your history. There is a frame of reference that I share with them and newer friends but still 30 or 40 years worth that I only had with my mother who passed away last year.
    I love when you write about things that cross age barriers. It’s where there is the most common ground.
    Thanks.

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