Old Friends and New Friends

Isn’t it funny how the people we went to school with stay in our hearts and minds? I just had a call from an old friend last night, and we talked and talked and laughed and laughed. It seemed like she and I and our other two friends have always had a connection that goes beyond time and space.

Our near and dear friends are always close to us in mind and heart. Back when we were kids, school was pretty cut and dried; you went to grammar school until you were around 12, when you “graduated” to junior high school (now called “middle school”). We all went to our brick and mortar school from grammer school, then junior high and then on to high school.

But, those of us in the eighth grade were in for a major change; a new regional high school had been built and we were the first in junior high students to go there. This was a HUGE change for us all. Previously all of us from Wolfeboro, NH went to the same school, and the kids who lived in the surrounding towns went to their schools.

This new regional high school had been built so that all surrounding towns could send their children to one school instead of many local schools. The new school was at that time a marvel; we had lockers, we had home rooms, we had classes in several rooms in the building, and we had to learn fast where to go. The biggest difference to us eighth graders was that we saw the “big kids,” that is, the high schoolers; every day. At the time they seemed so cool, so sure of themselves and so “with it.”

I remember that, when in my old school, my Sears dresses and white ankle socks and saddle shoes were everyday school wear. I never thought much about it; clothes were clothes. But in this brand new school, girls just a year or two older than me and my friends wore plaid kilts (with every manner of gorgeous pin to keep the kilt from flapping open), sweater sets, and nylons. I also noticed that none of them had hairy legs like I did.

After the first day of being in the new school, I came home begging my mother to let me shave my legs. But at age 13, my mother told me in no uncertain terms that I would not be shaving my legs any time soon.

However, I was so desperate that one evening I got in the bathtub (full of Mr. Bubble suds) with my mother’s razor and started shaving my legs. Of course I made all kinds of nicks which bled immediately. I panicked and called for Mom. She came running in and assessed the situation.

I though she would be furious, but instead she sat on the edge of the tub and showed me how to shave my legs properly so that I wouldn’t keep cutting myself. While she scolded me for going against her will, she said that she understood how I must feel, seeing all those girls nearly my age with shaved legs and nylons.

That Christmas for the first time, I recieved some real “grown-up” gifts; my very own razor (and boxes of those tiny little bandaids), nylons and a girdle (I was thin as a rail and didn’t need one, but this was the time before panyhose was invented). I felt so grown up.

After the holidays, my friends and I compared notes and most of us had been given the go-ahead to shave our legs. We all felt like the young women we were. We loved our smooth and hairless legs and gloried in wearing “big girl” things.

Oh, we were so young and so innocent then! We stayed friends all through high school, and tried to keep in touch through college. Life changed us; we moved into tiny apartments and were so thrilled with having our own homes. And we went on into the world to begin our own lives.

Although we didn’t always keep in touch, we never forgot each other. The warmth and joy of those friendships made it easier for us to make new friends. It did not mean that we forgot our old pals; we never did. So at this stage of our lives, as mothers and grandmothers and aunties, we are still friends.

Plus, we have enriched our lives with new friends as well who have become as precious as our old friends. In fact, we find with each new friend that our hearts and souls expand to include them in our hearts and minds as we do our old dear friends.

All I can think of is how rich in friends I am. How lucky I am to have these magnificent women and men in my life. I honestly do not know who I would be without them. So, if you are reading this, my dear and beloved friends, please know that you are always in my heart and you have made a huge and wonderful difference in my life.


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