They say that friendship is a lot like tennis; it’s fun and you both take turns playing off of each other’s volley. You have to volley into each other’s court to play; much like the back and forth interaction we have in friendships. I still have fond memories of my first friends:
Annette was cute and bubbly, the same age as me, and full of mischief! We were born just a few days apart in the same hospital. Our mom’s were friends. We were also neighbors until Annette and her family moved away in 1st or 2nd grade. I was so sad when she moved. Our neighborhood was full of boys, and there weren’t very many girls my age to play with. I remember one day when we were playing over at her house, she said, “Let’s put apples in our shirts,” and then go show her mom. I remember thinking it probably wasn’t a good idea, and I was right; her mom frowned at us and I was so embarrassed. And what made it worse, Annette told her mom that it was my idea! 🥴
Lynn was also a neighbor; she lived two doors down from our house and although Lynn was a couple of years younger than me, we got along good. Her house was warm and inviting, filled with antiques and the tick-tick of an old clock. We almost always played indoors so I guess that’s why I remember her house so much. Lynn was quiet and small for her age and she was super sweet. I remember her mom telling me that Lynn’s health was fragile and that she couldn’t play outdoors or as often as I wanted to. As life would have it, and I guess because of our age difference, our friendship faded. Years later, I was so sorry to hear that she passed away in her late thirties. I never learned what caused her early death or what her mom meant when she told me that Lynn was frail.
Carla and I met in 3rd grade at our elementary school. She had the prettiest smile and such a beautiful complexion. Most of my memories of our friendship consisted of spending the night with each other and playing Barbie dolls. Our friendship was short lived though as she also moved away. Several years later I was surprised to see her at high school, but so many years had passed, we really didn’t know each other anymore.
Judi lived next door to the elementary school we attended and I remember thinking that was so cool! She walked to and from school everyday. We were friends from the 4th through 6th grade. She was creative, fun to be around, and we had something in common: The Beatles! We used to sing Beatles songs, dance, practice cheers, play Four-Square, and tetherball. She was so athletic and was almost always better than me in whatever we did. I remember her mom would drop us off downtown Indianapolis to go shopping all by ourselves. I felt so grown up. I think we were only 10 or 11 years old at the time. I also remember going on a trip with her family to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. I thought that was such a cool place. We lost touch after 6th grade when we went to different junior high schools for 7th – 9th grade. We ended up going to the same high school but it wasn’t until the end of our sophomore year that I realized who she was. She had grown about 6 inches taller than me and I hadn’t even recognized her. It was sad though because we didn’t know each other anymore. Puberty made us grow up; we weren’t the same little girls anymore.
I met Donita in 7th grade junior high and we were such such kindred spirits. Our common interests were boys and fashion. We’d talk on the phone for hours! I remember my dad getting so annoyed because we’d be on the phone almost every night with each other. And this was back when we only had home phones, and of course they were attached to the wall. I would lay on the floor in the living room and stretch the cord out of shape, and my dad would complain that the cord was stretched out of shape and that I was always on the phone and nobody else could get through if they were calling. Back then, home phones would give just give a busy signal to the caller if you were already on the phone talking with someone. Eventually I got a phone with a long cord installed in my room but we still only had one telephone line. My favorite memories with Donita were spending the night over at each other’s house and when she came with me on a family vacation to Indiana Beach:
Then one day Donita told me that her dad was being transferred to Georgia and that she had to move too. We cried for hours – both on and off the phone! We kept in touch by writing letters for the first few years of years (which I still have) and when I graduated from high school, I flew down to Florida and met her in Atlanta on a one hour stopover at the airport. As the years went by we lost touch. I thought of her often, and then a few years ago I remembered a picture that she had sent me of her baby girl with her name written on the back of it. I did a Facebook search and found her daughter, who then gave me her email address. We connected up again and I got to visit with her, again in Atlanta, but this time we met for lunch. It was good to see her and to be back in contact after all those years.
Penny and I met in Junior High and our common interests were shopping, Janis Joplin, rock bands, and boys. I don’t know how, but somehow we managed not to get into too much trouble. One night we took her brothers car out for a drive (she drove, not me!) and we were probably only 14 years old. We loved going to parties, singing Janis Joplin songs, hanging out with friends, and dancing at Sherwood Country Club. We also went to rock concerts to see Three Dog Night, Chicago, and Iron Butterfly. Here we are in 1969 with my brother who had just graduated from Navel training:
And some pictures of us at Indiana Beach:
I remember Penny always had a beautiful tan (even in the winter) and I tried so hard to get a tan like her. One day, after laying out for several days in the sun, her mom told me, with a serious face, “Elaine, you should get out in the sun more.” 😳
Here we are at our 40th high school reunion in 2012:
“There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” Proverbs 18:24b
I remember the first time I read this verse, I assumed that it referred to friends. Later I learned that the “friend” in this verse is referring to Jesus. He is actually my closest friend today.
It’s interesting how you can hear or read a Bible verse several times and then, it’s as if you’re hearing it for the first time. In the late 1980’s I remember hearing this next verse in a sermon and it really caught my attention. Interestingly, it’s the first half of Proverbs 18:24:
“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly,” Proverbs 18:24a
I’ve thought about that verse often over the years, as throughout most of my life, friendships have been difficult for me. First of all as an adult, I think it’s easy to get “out of the practice” of friendship. We get busy with kids, work, and just the busyness of life. But personally for me and for as long as I can remember, I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable around other people. I enjoy solitude. In retrospect I think that God has used that to help me draw closer to Him, which of course is a good thing. But friendships are also a good thing.
Actually I need to be continually reminded to stay in the game; not to drop the ball or quit; to serve; to return the ball whenever it lands in my court; to seek common interests with others and to take time to invest in friendships. This is also for anyone who finds themselves with similar feelings. I’ll close with this quote from C. S. Lewis:
“Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”