So I have grey hair. Like, really grey. I noticed a few strands here and there over the years, but these days, I have a full-on streak of grey right in the front. I confess, I kind of like it. It’s not that weird, extra strong wire-like, possibly made of some sort of steel grey hair. It’s just my regular hair — gone grey.
This weekend I was discussing my grey streak with my good friend Nancy, who was in town for a visit. I joked with her that my hairdresser had tried to convince me that it was NOT grey hair. “It’s just a blonde streak,” the hairdresser said (and I use the term hairdresser loosely, as in, the lady who cuts my hair at the Snip-a-Roo inside WalMart is my “hairdresser.”).
Upon telling this story to Nan, I laughed and said, “Yeah, as if my hair is going prematurely BLONDE.”
“Marn, I hate to break it to you, but you’re 35,” Nan said. “There’s nothing premature about it.”
Ah, good old Nancy, the girl who you can always trust to explain to you a little thing more commonly known as REALITY.
This is what I miss most about my girlfriends. Over the past few months, I have been lucky enough, through the miracle of modern technology that my mother calls “The Face Page,” to get in touch with almost all the women who made ME the woman I am today. Somewhere in my mid-20’s, Nancy and our other friend Kayla came into the picture, and somehow, some way, I’ve never been able to shake them. I mean that in a good way (of course). But visiting with Nancy this weekend, and Kayla just a week earlier, made me appreciate how lucky I am to have them, and how a part of me still longs for the women I left behind. The same women who are back, even if just slightly so and over the Face Page, but back. How the hell do I get them to stay? I mean… I NEED them.
First there’s Jenny, my best bud from second through eighth grade. While all the other girls were signing their notes “BFF,” Jenny and I were far more gramatically correct. We signed ours “BOFF,” Best OF Friends Forever. We sometimes added “buddy” to the end of it, making us “BOFF Buddies.” I suppose these days, two women referring to themselves as “BOFF Buddies” would mean something else.
There’s also Jacki, the girl who transferred in at 5th grade or so. Man did she ever crack me up.
After that comes my High School soul mate, Chris. We were calling each other “man” waaaayyyy before Bud Light’s “I love you, Man” ad campaign. When she friended me on the Face Page, my first response was, “Hey, Man!” Chris got me through puberty and my first love, and once, crushed by a broken heart, I drove all the way across Illinois and halfway through Indiana just to see her. She was the only one who could make it better.
There’s also my two college roomates, Jen and Missy. They were the girls I spent my time with at 1218 Wetzel Hall at WIU, Jen freshman year, Missy sophomore year. These girls knew my deepest secrets, my hearbreak, my desires. Nothing was too personal to not share with them. If I knew it, they knew it. Jen and I did not, I repeat, did NOT, smoke anything other than regular cigarettes together. Ever. I swear it. And that crack in the windshield of my mother’s car… yeah, Missy’s head did that, while she was looking for a party and I hit the breaks. She didn’t bleed or anything. That girl had a head of steel.
There are a few girls missing. Tracy and Jill. Suha and Jackie. There’s also Jen from New Orleans, who I still keep in touch with, just not as much as I wish I did. And there’s Nikki, my WWIR co-anchor, who keeps in touch with the Face Page and Christmas cards.
All of these women had a profound impact on me. Jenny and Jacki helped to craft my sense of humor. Chris ushered me into adulthood, and from there, reality of heartbreak and happiness. Missy and Jen taught me the line between being serious and being a party girl. And sometimes we crossed those lines, but we throughly enjoyed the ride that got us there. Tracy and Jill were my first experience in how a duo becomes a trio, which then becomes a duo again. Suha and Jackie were my first friends at a new high school, the girls who laughed at my jokes and taught me not to judge. Nikki was planning her wedding when I couldn’t even plan my night. The result — she clearly has the three most beautiful children in the world. Nikki was my first peer to teach me what committment between two people really means, just by watching her and her husband. Plus, she taught me how to properly pronounce “W,” which is harder than it sounds and eventually came in pretty handy! Jen from New Orleans and her husband taught me a lot about love, mainly, it’s not as easy as it looks, even for people who truly love eachother.
Nancy and Kayla, though, came at a time when we were all on our own and first discovering what adulthood means. We shared a house that we lovingly referred to as “The Chick Shack.” There were tears and laughter. There was lots of booze. There was a bizarre amount of chicken schwarma and calzones the size of our heads. There was the water park and the Waffle House. There were fun parties and embarassing moments of seeing the others in compromising positions (or sometimes, just hearing it). There was work and there was play. There was Ivars and Zee Zees and Clicks and The Chimes and that bar we cannot remember the name of. There was Kayla’s reaction to sweets. There was The Zipper at the Baton Rouge State Fair. Friends became sisters. And it stuck, even after we split up and got married and had babies, not always in that order.
But while all those other girls came in and out of my life, they all played a role, they all held their own crucial chapter. On any given day, I can tell a story that starts with one of their names. I am just blessed enough that when I tell those stories about Kayla and Nan, it’s not a “used to be” story. They are the girls I can trust to tell me the truth — like I sure am getting older.
Still, I miss those other girls. I wish I could hold on to all of them the way I’ve been able to hang on to Kayla and Nancy, and I shudder at the thought of Kayla and Nancy turning into friends-gone-by. I don’t think they ever will. While the other girls and I grew apart, Kayla and Nancy and I simply just ARE apart. But as much as I love and appreciate Kayla and Nan, it doesn’t make me miss Jenny or Jacki or Chris or Missy or Jen or Nikki or Jen any less. I don’t long for my youth back. But I sure do miss those girls, and I only wish they knew that I wouldn’t be right here, right today, if they hadn’t been there for me all those years ago.