Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Story of Friendship


The bride and her man

Despite my last post, my trip was also full of good times and I'm glad I went. The impetus for this particular trip was to attend a friend's wedding. Amber Dodson was my best friend in middle school. Middle school/junior high is widely accepted as the most socially brutal time in a young persons life and my experience was no exception. Allow me to take you back...

I was excited and nervous for the first day of 6th grade at my new middle school. I was in the popular clique in 5th grade and fully expected that when our 5th grade class and the other school's 5th grade class blended into one 6th grade class that I would again be part of the cool girl group. However something happened within that first week of school, something inexplicable that can only be attributed to the fickle and mean ways of middle school girls, and suddenly I had no friends. The cool girls from the other elementary school were the new queen bee's and for some reason I didn't make the cut. My old friends did little to help me out. All it takes is one wrong move. In the words of Heidi Klum one day you're in...the next day you're out. And I was out. I had been given a one way ticket to Nerdsville and elected the new mayor. Feeling like I didn't have any other options at the time, I became a follower of the cool girl group. A follower is someone who stands on the outside of the circle, following a group around while not actually being an accepted member of said group but trying desperately to belong nonetheless. Pathetic. I knew I wasn't really one of their friends, but at the time it seemed better than standing by myself. That pretty much sums up 6th grade. It kinda sucked.

However, there was one girl that I really, really wanted to be friends with. Her name was Amber Dodson {cue chimes}. I sat next to her in gym. She was easily the prettiest girl in our class, but much too kind to be caught up in the popularity contest. She was cool, pretty, smart and funny... but above all she was kind. I'll always remember her as the first person I ever described as "naturally nice." Unfortunately we only had gym together and that didn't do much to facilitate a full blown friendship.

6th grade ended and I spent the summer thinking about what I would do the next year. I wasn't going to be a follower again. I promised myself that. So I had an idea. As I walked up the hill on the way to the first day of 7th grade I had a plan. My entire middle school career hinged on the success or failure of this plan. I was going to make Amber Dodson my best friend. That was my big plan. Ta-da!

Somehow, miraculously, it worked. Amber and I became best friends and we had the best time. The next 2 years of middle school are filled with fond memories of a great friendship. From band class and sleep overs, to Saturday Night Live and painting her parents truck we were attached at the hip. It was one of the most drama-less friendships I've ever had. To this day we've never had one fight. Over the the next few years we went separate ways. We went to different high schools, different colleges, etc. But we've always kept in touch and no matter how much time has passed we always pick up right where we left off. Alright, nerd flashback over.

Amber's wedding was last weekend and it had been at least 6 years since we last saw each other. {In fact, when I got married and was leaving Denver puking my guts out {see previous post} she called me on the way to the airport wondering if I was still around--she had tried to make it to the reception but something happened and she didn't get into town until the next day--the day I was leaving.} I was so excited to see her on her wedding day. So happy to be a part of my dear friends special day and to cheer her on from the sidelines. Having been a bride myself I know what it's like to be the one in the white dress--everyone wants a word with you, some one on one time and you just can't do it all. I didn't want to be a bride hog, but of course I wanted a few minutes with my old friend. When I finally saw Amber we fell into a giant hug and we both started crying. It was a perfect moment. We reminisced about fun times, recalled inside jokes and stupid middle school stuff. She introduced me to her new husband who is a wonderful guy and appears to be her equal in every way. I was especially pleased to hear that what she loved about him most was his kindness. The whole trip was worth it for that one moment.

While I'm jealous that so many of the people at her wedding get to interact with her on a more frequent basis, I feel very blessed to have had a childhood filled with memories of such a good friend and of finding one of my true life friends at such a young age. When I think about Beanie going to school in a few years and dealing with cliques and mean girls, I pray that she both finds a friend and is a friend like Amber. The pain and frustration of 6th grade is so insignificant compared to the blessings that it brought in a friendship that has spanned 20 years.

Congratulations Amber!


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