One of my favorite presents this year was a little "joy" necklace that my friend Rebecca gave me. The somewhat abridged version of the story is that we became instant best friends when she moved to Utah in fifth grade. We were the shortest and youngest girls in the class so it just made sense that we hang out. I LOVED her but even from a young age, there was a big disparity in our popularity levels. Other girls were constantly trying to move in on "best friend" territory and boys would call me looking for her phone number. To be quite honest, I always felt really insecure about our relationship.
Cut to the great locker partner split of eighth grade. Over the summer Rebecca decided to locker with someone else. I was devastated. I ended up with a girl who was actually really nice and cool and fun and I often regretted that my sadness at being rejected by someone else probably kept me from getting too close to this potential new friend. The following year Rebecca made the cheerleading squad, I was firmly entrenched in honors classes and the drama club and we barely spoke for the rest of our public school lives.
I look back on the little me of those years and I wish she had been a little braver. I wish she had put a little less stock in who was "cool" and who wasn't. She was a good kid with a lot of talents and she spent a disproportionate amount of her time worrying about her lowly place on the high school food chain. I have a feeling that if I end up with children, I will get one like her and that could drive the adult me nutso. I hope I will be patient with her tender feelings.
Then my junior year of college I was with some friends at a house I didn't live in and the phone rang for me. It was Rebecca. Calling to apologize for snipping me out of her life all those years ago. I was floored. A mix of, "it's about freakin' time and by the way I don't need this because I turned out just fine without you," and "wow, I'm so happy to have my friend back." It took a few years before the first feelings went away. I was uncomfortable with the after school special-esque idea that I'd been pining away in my nerd castle waiting for the cool girl to see that I was actually pretty OK. It's funny how your social standing as a 16 year old gets so imprinted on your brain that you often continue to operate at a high school maturity level well into your twenties.
As real live adults Rebecca and I have gotten back to super close. She is married now and has one of the most adorable curly haired babies ever. In recent months we've been able to spend some good quality time together and I know precisely why I liked her so much in the first place.
So over lunch at Rich's Bagels in Salt Lake she gave me a box of two little silver "joy" necklaces with the explanation that we never got "best friend" necklaces as kids. I thought about all the times I wanted to nail one to her forehead so no one else could steal her. I was so terrified of losing her as a friend that I know I sometimes got annoyingly possessive. I wish there was some way to let my junior high self know that really really-this was all going to be OK.
I am guilty of wanting to know right this second how things are going to "turn out" when my experience tells me that the real ending is always better than the one I imagined. How incredibly frustrating that I can't seem to learn a lesson I get taught over. and over. and over. One of the many things a future daughter and I can fight about I suppose. I'm wearing the necklace now as a reminder. I hope this time it sticks.
One thing that will always remind me of sleepovers with Rebecca is making up dances to Milli Vanilli songs. This one was a particular favorite-we loved the dialogue at the beginning. Oddly prophetic those guys-whoever they were.