Sep 17, 2011

On school buses & lasting friendships..

     We bonded over school buses and the lack of older brothers to drive us to high school. She was standing on the corner of Dale Avenue and Powhatan Street, seething, as her mom told her riding the bus builds character & wished her a good first day at school. “My parent’s say the same thing to me,” I consoled as a fellow victim of recently graduated older brothers who used to drive us to school. I was pretty humbled to be forced onto the big cheese as a junior in high school. Angst towards your parents is a perfect foundation for a high school friendship, and for Mary Whitney & I it was no different. The school bus rides and chats were a springboard to a lasting connection. And while our schoolmates were discovering alcohol on the weekends, we were content with our sleepovers, learning to drive stick shift around our neighborhood, terrorizing our math teacher when we stayed after for tutoring and trying to straighten our naturally frizzy hair. I did my best to distract Mary Whit from her mandatory soccer practices with various teams around town, but mostly just accompanied her during her runs, drills in the backyard with her brothers, and high school games. Despite my constant companionship, she still went on to play for Gonzaga University.

   I spent the following summer working at our neighborhood pool. Though Whit had a grueling soccer training schedule to keep her from a regular job, she spent as much free time at the pool as possible and soon became an honorary employee. She spent her time well there, earning the affection of my male co-workers, all the while trying to set me up with her older brother. Summer romances ensued and quickly faded with the smell of no.2 pencils in the fall as we all headed back to school. By the time the summer was over we were inseparable.

     My senior year meant I could finally drive to school. Adventures followed. Adventures like skipping last period to go to Wendy’s every single day {No wonder I had my chunky years in high school..}, high school basketball games, later curfews, many movies & Applebees nights, my graduation and the golden summer after high school before college.  Mary Whitney’s senior year sent her to North Carolina where her dad was transferred. No matter though, I spent Thanksgiving with her and she made frequent treks to Norfolk that summer. I was really excited  when she called and told me they were moving back to Norfolk in 2006. Even though she was headed to Washington State on a ROTC scholarship to Gonzaga University, it meant we would be together all school breaks.

     And so it continued…all through college. AOL instant messenger, cell phones, email, Christmas & Spring Break. Our friendship endured the cross country distance, bad boyfriends & break-ups, our own fights & disagreements, ROTC & school challenges. I remember many, many fun spring breaks when she would come to stay with me in my bachelorette pad, eating ice cream & popcorn for dinner, and spending our days at the beach or just like old times-tagging along to work with me. We lifeguarded together for two summers during college, and those were the good old days. But those years went my fast and after college she’s been very busy serving in the Army. It’s been good to be on the same coast again though! Most recently, she stood beside me on June 3rd, as a bridesmaid, as I married my best friend. She came in on the Thursday before the wedding, bringing her quick-fire temper, hilarious outlooks and devoted support with her. I loved every minute of it.

     Today is Mary Whitney’s wedding. As I write this she is probably applying her lipstick as she prepares to walk down the aisle. Marcus and I were unable to go to San Antonio, Texas for her wedding which is why she is being celebrated on my blog today.  Whit and I are as different as black and white and our lives have gone in startling opposite directions-yet we remain. Some things never change-especially her ability to hop on a plane and come for an impromptu visit or my knack to call her when she most needed it. Our hour long phone calls always pick up right were we left off.

     Every time I pass a school bus, I thank God for meddlesome mom’s who make their kids ride the big cheese. You never know where you might meet your best friend.  

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