November/December, 1985–My fave photo of the three of us. On the balcony of the gym “having class” on a game day–we won state in football that year. Our makeup ALONE is a study in the ’80’s. PEEP all of that blue mascara. We won’t even address the hair. And you can’t tell, but we all have neon green Extra gum (it had JUST COME OUT) in our mouths.
As I have stated a time (or thousand), I have known Sarah for nigh unto forever. . .really. A long, long time. Just 5 years shy of the amount of time I’ve known Sarah, however, is the amount of time I’ve know Mary Linda and Stephanie. A whopping 28 years. That is no amount of chronology at which to sneeze.
I thank my lucky stars for the unfortunate rezoning of their neighborhood to a school where neither they nor their parents wanted them to attend. It landed them squarely at O.C.S. my 7th grade year, and boy did I ever need them.
I went to a teeny, tiny private Christian school. I’m talkin’ little–like just over 30 other kids were in my graduating class–and I had known most of them since at least 4th or 5th grade–or 1st. I was not the most popular girl in 7th grade for many, MANY reasons. . .being extremely loud and very bossy not the least of those reasons–others were more superficial and ones over which I had less control. That being said, Stephanie and Mary Linda (and Kim who left in 8th grade I think) came into our little school and, though objects of curiosity, were not immediately accepted into the cliques that naturally form. And neither was I. And did I mention that I was loud?
Well, the three of them found me HILARIOUS. . .they would just laugh and laugh and laugh at me–and I loved that. I’ve never particularly asked them WHY they laughed at me (I’m pretty sure I KNOW why)–but it doesn’t matter, because in October of this past year when I went home for the chorus reunion, they were STILL laughing at me (loudly enough that I could hear them through a plate glass window) when I had barely gotten myself out of Sarah’s car. I had my ankle brace on, and they are both WELL acquainted with my lack of grace and dexterity having seen me trip, fall, stumble, and skin my knee (and crawl out of the trunk of a car or a CLOSET) on more than one occasion.
Those two girls were the friends I had never had. They really, truly DID love me–in all of my loud, unfashionable, bossiness. They threw a surprise party for me on my 13th birthday–and we STILL tell the story–poor Bea (Mary Linda’s maid) didn’t know what hit her. They taught me how to put on makeup. They listened to me drone ON AND ON AND ON about my jr. high/high school crush. They wrote me notes, and signed their letters “LYLAS.” Stephanie read my really, really BAD poetry and was kind to me anyway. They shared their secrets and held mine in confidence. (Well, MARY-“he’s-wearing-a-pink-shirt”- LINDA–most of them.) I spent more nights than I can count in their homes–normally Mary Linda’s–she lived about two houses away from Stephanie–and M.L. was an only child, so there was more room at her house (for me to destroy things and generally drive her father insane). There are many, many, MANY other stories that don’t need to be published on the world wide web.
I was in both of their weddings. They were both in mine. They were in each others. We have the photos (and dresses) to tell the tale.
Stephanie now lives in Texas–not too incredibly far from where we grew up. Mary Linda is still in the same town in Louisiana. About a week ago, I had a REALLY bad dream about the three of us AND Sarah. It was just not a pleasant dream AT ALL. And, so, after I woke up from it, I thought about them. As with most friends–we don’t talk as often as we “should.” We just know the others are there.
On my way in to work, I called Mary Linda–7:23 a.m. I was pretty sure she was up, but knew she wouldn’t kill me even if she weren’t. She answered on speaker phone, so I got to speak to her hubby too. (Hi, J.J.) I told her about the dream. We chatted for awhile–she assured me all was well, and that was that. When I got to school, I e-mailed Stephanie the same info and cc:d Mary Linda. Over the course of the next few hours, we e-mailed back and forth–chatting–making jokes–asking some serious questions and divulging some information too.
These girls–these women–these are my friends. They have loved me a long, long time. They are precious to me. At the reunion, Stephanie was the only one who brought her husband with her. Mary Linda–strictly speaking–was not in chorus (though she DID make sure I arrived back in time for chorus each day after our drive-thru lunch of McDonald’s fries and Wendy’s chicken sandwiches and Frosties), but we made her (under EXTREME duress and peer pressure on our part. . .and much whining on her part) come with us. We laughed the WHOLE STINKIN’ TIME. We made snarky comments and told inside jokes and generally yucked it up. Stephanie’s husband said, “I need to get her away from y’all. She doesn’t ACT this way at home.” He was kidding. I think. 🙂
How did I get so blessed? Seriously. What a treasure. . .