Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Barbie Turns 50 and So Do We

Ever have one of those "once in a lifetime" experiences that is so powerful it leaves you speechless? You have to spend a few days mulling it over in your mind before you can clarify your thoughts? Last weekend I had one of those moments. I traveled back in time-- to 1975, and for 3 short days became a teenager again with 12 of my best friends from high school. The occasion --- our 50th birthday celebration.

For three days we holed up in a beautiful cabin in the mountains of Utah. Some of us skied, and walked, and jacuzzied. We all laughed, and cried, and recalled the experiences that lead us to where we are now -- new and improved versions of our old selves. Our outer shells sported a few more wrinkles (and dare I say ... age spots), but on the inside, time and experience had refined each of us.

I guess what I marvel at the most is that each friend had experienced great trials in her life. Not one of us was immune. And yet, each woman had made the choice to carry on -- in spite of trials, and found joy in the journey.

While I was there, and since I've been home, I have been in awe at the wonder of friendship -- friendship that has endured over 30 years.
(Thank you Gail, for penning that "wonder" phrase in an email, it expressed how I feel beautifully.)

How I loved these girls. For 30 years, they have been one of the biggest blessings in my life. Friends I could count on no matter what. They are now valiant women who inspire me.

Shelly, my tin man. The friend with a heart so big you could almost hear it ticking. She always made time for the people and things she loved. Smart, beautiful, and full of life. She knew where she was going, and when I was lost, she helped me find my way. The girl who drove a Pacer, wherein we sang unabashed our made up lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody. (I still think our version is better.) My buddy behind the Tennis Club snack bar serving soft ice cream cones and flipping burgers. My neighbor in Jazz who could “improvise” with the best of them, even if it was only in private. My cohort in crime as we cruised by the houses of our secret loves and “Highland honked.” How she managed to look cool in feet pajamas I’ll never know. We discovered the source of her ultra groovy hair cut was none other than “Georgia”, my mom. Shelly at 50, so loyal, so full of love.

Julie -- "Halg" to those who know her best. The girl with the infectious laugh, and beautiful smile. We became acquainted through a sister/aunt connection and she welcomed me into her life with open arms. The actress, Madrigal, Pep Clubber who spent 3 years with mono because she was just too busy to get any sleep. The center of all fun, who talked her parents into letting us paint the family station wagon with zebra stripes. The girl with a boat that sometimes worked, and a cabin near the Heber hot springs that she was always willing to share with us. The “friend of the friendless” who rescued and loved more people than I can name. Halgren, who jumped up and down with excitement every time she saw you, and became a women who is still thrilled when she finds stale M&M’s in the pocket of her ski parka.

Linda B, the light when we stumbled in the dark. She became my instant friend when we spent an hour locked in the trunk of a Toyota with a stinky dog blanket. At sixteen, she had a knowledge and wisdom far beyond her years. She counseled each of us and made us feel like the most important person in her life. I still value that counsel at 50. I take pride in the fact that we were her first patients. She honed her skills on us, and eventually became a psychologist who now helps hundreds with who are in the thick of deep trials. And along with wisdom, there was humor, and laughter. Unda, the Grand Central employee who folded granny panties and closed the store one night by saying “Thank You for Shopping at K-Mart.” My friend with a bladder problem caused by laughing too hard. The girl in the yearbook with the dramatic dance pose. “Bentley” was and is … FUN.

Kathryn, hilarious, and innocent. She scooped ice cream and hung out of the back of a station wagon while playing a trumpet. Mischievous Kump, who “pants-ed" every girl in Pep-Club on more than one occasion. The only person I have ever known who snacked on powdered Jello. I think of her sitting near an electrical outlet in 1st period so she could plug in her curling iron and style her incredibly cute short hair. Patient Kathryn who put up with my broken heart and gave me rides. Who sat with me on a keg of root beer until it exploded. Faithful Kathryn who taught me the gospel and invited me to seminary. She shared my passion for gummi bears, and sent me boxes and boxes of them from Austria. Who knew that lurking behind twinkling eyes and an innocent smile was the brain of a rocket scientist. How did she manage to get straight A's when she was so busy having fun? I admired her then, and I admire her now. She taught me the value of learning – that it never ends. Some day, I'm sure I will be addressing her as "Dr. Knudsen."

Diane B, the girl with the mother-heart. She made each of us feel valued and loved. I met her just after she lost her mother. I finally had a friend who understood. We had an instant connection that bound us together. Sweet Bart, who was ALWAYS kind. I never understood how she managed to find the silver lining in any situation, but she did. She saw the good in all of us and ignored the bad. Diane, the epicurean who made us cookies and rolls, and frozen pizza. The keeper of our club house on Roxbury Drive. The hostess of many slumber parties where we all feel asleep together in her giant bed. My friend who loved me unconditionally, in spite of all my flaws. Bart, who inspired me to be a little better. I’m so grateful to number her among my friends.

Irene, the girl with rhythm and mountains in her soul. Deep as the water in Hebgen Lake, she stood for something. The driver of the Bronco. Captain of the posse who cruised State Street on Friday nights. My neighbor in Mr. Carter’s English class. Irene, who never doubted who she was. I think of how her face would light up when there was a great song at a stomp, and the smile on her face as she danced on stage. I hear her voice in the dark saying “Goodnight John Boy”, and her ringing laugh on our trip to St. George. I remember the spirit of her home, and the smell of her mother’s homemade bread. It brought a feeling of warmth, and peace. I knew that some day, I would have that too. Irene gave me hope in a brighter future.

Gail, the beauty with long hair who could not only sing, but write -- about things so deep that most of us didn't understand what she was so eloquently trying to say. The only friend I had in Mr. Corsi's strange math class. The girl who always looked perfect, and who had a wickedly funny sense of humor. I will never forget our adventure in Reno. Playing pranks on the Juniors solidified our friendship. She grew into a truly amazing woman with so many layers. Each layer is unique and I'm so glad that she has shared some of them with me. Gail, a woman who fights for the underdog, and writes with such passion -- I get it now. I keep waiting to see her first novel on the shelves at Barnes and Noble.

Suzanne, the girl with the "Ultra-Bright" smile and "Coppertone" tan. The Pep Club Duo #2 and #3. We share a common nightmare -- two months of working at KFC. It took us twice that long to get the smell of "the secret recipe" off our hands. Suzanne, so full of adventure. One in particular I'll never forget -- a mountain ride thorough Jackson Hole in a stolen RV. (Don't ask).

Suzanne the brave. She never seemed afraid. Even when she jumped off a huge cliff at Echo Lake. Did you lose your swimsuit top? I did, and almost drown! After 30 years, she still looks the same -- beautiful.Mary, my friend with the gorgeous olive skin and calm demenor. Tall and slender, and a little mysterious. Our paths did not cross often, but when they did, it was always fun. I can still see Mary walking through the waves at sunset in Hawaii. I wonder, did she even know that she could have been a super model? When I think of Mary, I think of strength. She raised and loved a daughter, all on her own, and when Mary talks about her, she beams.

Kim, my HAW buddy senior year. Co-D.J.'s for a teen radio program one Saturday morning. When I think of Kim, I think of Youth Conference, and Lucy Mae, and Floyd our chaperons, and Brighton -- her home away from home. Thank you for sharing your parents with me, and your love of mountains, and meadows. I think Kim will be hiking until she is 80. I'm hoping she will pull me a long in a toboggan.

Linda P- the girl with the raspy voice and more talent in her little finger that most of us get in our entire body. Linda, who reminds me of Park City, and skiing, and a motor boat on Jenny Lake. Sterling scholar, and leader of women -- she actually knew how to sew a men's suit complete with a tie. "How does Linda do that??" We asked ourselves that question on more than one occasion. The girl lucky enough to marry her high school sweetheart. Linda is .... cool.

And last but not least, those who could not be with us......

Shauna, my sister-friend. We became acquainted in 7th grade and have been best friends ever since. We in cashed Coke bottles each week so we would have spending money. We sat on the curb together each time there was an Open House and a "For Sale" sign up in our yards. We shared roller-skates, traded boyfriends, and played more pranks that I can count. We sang show tunes, and practiced our dance moves. I can still see her in her knit mustard-colored pants-suit showing me the shake-a-puddin' move. She made it look so easy. We survived heartache and pain with our dependable home remedy -- laughter, and lots of it. Shauna can finish my sentences. What would I do without her? She knows me better than I know myself. Wasn't it fun being Lucy and Ethel??

Diane D, the girl with the amazing wardrobe who shared it with me -- even though she was tall and slender and I was a puny 5'2". She shared more than cloths -- Joe, who rescued me from a fainting spell in the back yard, Deanie who took us cruising whenever we were bored, and Grandma. How I loved hanging out at Diane's house and the beauty salon owned by her aunt. Diane, the girl who kept me busy -- embroidering boxers, making quilts and chocolate chip cookes, and of course spying on Skyline girls. She actually gave her boyfriend (now husband) a racoon for a pet! Who does that???? Diane. I smile when I think of her, and all the zany things we did.

It was a wonderful weekend my dear, dear friends. I love each of you, more than you will ever know. And Julie . . . . it never would have happened, if it wasn't for you. Thank you.


Team Fifield said...

What an awesome post. Friends like that are rare to find. I love everything you said... it is so true! Sometimes we find ourselves all over again when we can let loose, stop playing mom for a moment and take a fresh breath of air. I love how you all got back together... still the same... only refined. Profound. :)

Chantel said...

Oh Crystal... if only I'd had you to chum with in high school! Maybe then I wouldn't cringe at the thought of my own reunion! You are seriously so amazing and I feel so lucky to have you as a friend now! And don't think I'm not going to get more juice out of you on all these zany stories you referenced! I'm dying to know now!

City Farmhouse said...

Very sweet post! There is a saying by I believe Helen Keller "My friends have made the story of my life." I have many dear childhood friends that I have no idea were I would have been if it weren't for them.

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