Callie (left) and Rachel, circa 1997
A week or so ago, I realized this blog is not my first foray into writing about friendship. During my junior year of high school, I bought one of those cheesy black and white photo books called “Girlfriends” for my BFF Callie. It was, if I remember correctly, filled with beautiful pictures of different sets of friends, accompanied by the stories of their friendships. Full of aspiring literary prowess even then, I pasted a picture of Callie and me in the last page and wrote our story.
At this point you’re probably thinking “Awwww, what a sweetheart she was! Appreciating the value of a true friendship even at 16 years old!” That’s certainly what I thought when I patted myself on the back and asked Callie to send me a copy of the story so I could post it on this very blog.
My memory of the tale involves two handwritten pages in which I craft an ode to Callie and Rachel – how we were BFFs from the very first time we laid eyes on each other. I don’t recall it using it as some sort of slam book, a forum in which I could make fun of teachers (see: reference to freshman history teacher as a “crack-smoking mental case”) or take passive aggressive digs at the very BFF this story was dedicated to (read: “…a beautiful friendship began to emerge. Soon, Rachel slept at Callie’s house for the first time. However, instead of attending to her new friend, Callie spent the whole night talking to her boyfriend.” Who says that??)
When I look back on high school, I remember the group of mean girls. I was not one of them. In my rose-colored tainted memory, I was a bit player in the social ladder that was teenage life. So you can imagine my horror when reading this. Granted, those “jokes” (and I put that word in quotation marks now, as I can see them for what they were – attempts by a totally insecure teenager to deal with her own crazy issues – but I really think back then I didn’t realize the nasty undertone they carried) were sandwiched between the early line of “These two were destined to be friends from the very beginning!” and the closer, “Rachel and Callie are best friends because it seems that they often share a mind. Rachel is sure that they will be friends forever.” I still stand by that.
So today, instead of oohing and aahing over what a sweetheart I was, I spent the entire day embarrassed by my behavior 11 years ago. I told myself we all are idiots at 16 and Callie knew I was joking—we shared a brain after all. I know she hasn’t held it against me (in fact, I’m fairly confident she hasn’t thought about it much since. She seemed genuinely surprised by some of the other not-fit-for-print lines of the story) because she’s held onto this book, and stood by me—literally, stood next to me – at both my wedding and my father’s burial. Through good times and bad. Always.
Still, I called her three times tonight to apologize for my 16-year-old self. We played phone tag and never connected. I sent her an apology email. I know she will write back tomorrow and say that I’m being crazy and have nothing to apologize for and assure me that none of us were at our best at 16. She’s that kind of friend.
Have you ever looked back at something you did or said to a friend years ago and felt ashamed or embarrassed? Do you think we edit memories to display ourselves in the best light? Is it ever too late to offer a heartfelt apology? And, when it comes down to it, are all 16-year-olds just insecure nitwits?