Reconnecting with a friend after 17 years

Reconnecting with a friend after 17 years

I’ve been waiting to post this picture until I had just the right words to say. I was going to post it on Instagram or Facebook, but I decided it was worthy of a full on blog post. This is a special picture and though I am sure there are no words I’m going to type some out any way and you’ll get a thimble full of the thousands of words this picture is worth. (If I know myself at all it will be a couple of thimbles at least.)

In the fall of 1983 my family arrived at our apartment in Izmir, Turkey. I was 6 years old and had already lived in 6 different houses in 3 different states. This would be my 3rd new school. It was an American school. We wouldn’t be learning a new language or culture in school, which looking back I guess is a little unfortunate. We did learn quite a bit about the Turkish culture living “on the economy” as they would call it. In our same building an American family was getting to transfer back to the U.S. They had packed up all their personal belongings and had rental furniture from the Air Force, the bare minimum.

It turned out that this family and my family had a lot in common. Their kids were similar in ages, they were Christians, they were Americans living in the same apartment building.

For the six or eight months we lived in the same building we were inseparable. Our parents would spend hours together in Bible study and lively conversation. Amy, their first grade daughter, and I would play dolls and house for long hours. We would eat large family dinners together, we’d sleep in the same bed. Our families became very close. They had a son, older than Amy and a daughter, younger. We all played and laughed and ate and slept. We rode the bus to school together and were in the same 1st grade class, until she moved.

Amy’s dad had been stationed to a base in Georgia and we wondered if we’d ever see this wonderful family again that we had grown so close to.  This was long before the internet, before social media and free long distance phone calls. We sent very literal letters in the mail, which could take weeks to arrive.

We left Turkey by the time I had completed half of the 3rd grade. We moved to Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. I finished the 3rd grade at my grandparents in Mississippi while my parents went on to Illinois. I think it was only 4 or 6 weeks. It felt like an eternity. Then, we moved to Belleville, IL, where I attended half of the 4th grade. Then, we moved on base where I would be in the same school district from the second half of 4th grade through the end of 9th grade. Nearing the end of 5th grade we go great news. Amy’s dad was getting stationed to Scott AFB!

6th grade was a little rocky. Amy was much cooler than I was and it was a stretch for me to chill on the attitude and be her friend. People didn’t like me as much as they did her. But she was kind and we were friends. Our friendship raised my middle school social class level.

We started both playing the flute in the 5th grade. Much of our middle school years was spent “practicing” for duets and going to music competitions. We spent hours looking at sheet music, laughing and talking about boys. I was crazy about boys. I’m not sure if she was as crazy as I was as I am certain no one has ever been as crazy about boys as I was. Amy lived on the other side of base so we didn’t ride the same bus home but as often as we could we’d ride home with each other to spend those long after school hours doing homework, playing the flute, doing flips off her bunk bed, eating cookies and talking about boys. When we didn’t go home together we’d spend hours on the phone….HOURS. I have no idea what we talked about. When I think how some of my kids text for so long I think about those hours I spent on the phone with Amy and I’m pretty sure it’s comparable. We had a code for the boys in our class and we’d call them by their code names so no one would know what we were talking about. We’d write notes and fold them origami style and slip them in each other’s lockers. It was middle school bliss to have a best friend, though I spent many lunches in detention, we had a great time in and out of school.

Then, after the 8th grade, Amy moved again. This time to Germany. I promised to write her every day. Which I did, for a while. Then it dwindled down as things like that do and we’d write once a week, once a month. But we stayed in touch.

We moved to Colorado, she moved to Kansas.

She graduated from Derby High School after only attending there for one year. Her graduation was at WSU. My family drove from Colorado Springs to Wichita, and on the morning of her graduation, Amy woke up to her best friend whom she hadn’t seen in 4 years. We laughed we cried. We spent the next 2 or 3 weeks together. My family took her back to Colorado with us and she attended my graduation, she was there the day my long time boyfriend broke up with me. It was perfect.

We met her parents somewhere, and she went home. We went on to college in different places. Amy back to Iowa where her family was from, me to Mississippi where my family lived. I got married, had a kid, coincidentally moved to Wichita.

Then, She got married in the summer of 2000. I was in her wedding, pregnant, toddler it tow. That was it. That was the last time we saw each other.

Facebook helped us to reconnect. I’ve seen pictures of her kids and wondered how she was. We’ve sent messages but I’ve long since broken my promise to write every day.

I was blessed with the opportunity to travel with my daughter’s showchoir this year, the same daughter that was a toddler at Amy’s wedding. I realized that one of the competitions might be close to Amy, and it was. She drove an hour to have lunch with me then watched my girl perform.

I didn’t know how it would feel, how it would be to see this special individual after so many years. She pulled up to the school I was at in her minivan, because that’s what we do now…drive minivans…she got out and hugged me and I swear she hasn’t aged a day. She’s the same little girl I played dolls with, who played her flute better than me and got A’s on everything I got a C on. (“A for Amy C for Carrie” we used to say) She was the same girl that cried with me the day my boyfriend broke up with me (thank the Lord) and who screamed in the back seat of my parents car with me when we almost got struck by lightening on the road back from Cripple Creek. So many memories so many giggles and tears it all came back in a rush and she looked beautiful.

We had lunch at a Mexican restaurant which was oddly good for Mexican in Iowa. She watched the show, and that was it. Happy/Sad.

I love her. I hope our paths find there ways wondering back together again.

We almost didn’t take a picture, but I’m so glad we did. So many words said, so many left unsaid. For words cannot encapsulate the love for a friend you’ve known your whole life.

Happy Birthday Amy, I love you dearly!



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