On the drive home, after picking up my groceries this afternoon, my eyes began to tear up.
I listened to the words of a randomly selected song on Spotify by Ben Rector.
I hadn’t ever heard the song “Old Friends” before, but it was so apropos considering earlier today, I had been thinking about an article I wanted to do for Women’s Friendship Day on September 19th.
The refrain went like this:
“Can you take me back when we were just kids
Who weren’t scared of getting older?
‘Cause no one knows you like they know you
And no one probably ever will
You can grow up, make new ones
But truth is there’s nothing like old friends
‘Cause you can’t make old friends
Through tear-filled eyes, I began to reflect on my two oldest friendships with my girlfriends, Aimee and Tiffany. Long before there were boyfriends, husbands, or children, it was us—but it wasn’t always that way.
In the beginning, it had been me and Aimee, but when Aimee moved to a town called Washington, she befriended another blonde girl named Tiffany. To say I was possessive of Aimee at five years old would be the understatement of the year, so when she introduced me to Tiffany, I did everything an inventive five-year-old could do to run her off.
Problem was, Tiffany was a good girl—raised in a godly home—and kept coming back for more, probably after she prayed for me.
At sleepovers, I would tell ghost stories and send her home in tears. I would pick on her and although I can’t remember, I wouldn’t doubt that I hit or kicked her too. But one summer day, something changed and my jealousy toward Tiffany dissipated and the three of us became one.
As Ben Rector sang, “Cause no one knows you like they know you,” I realized that I may have wonderful adult friends now, but they will only know the recounted versions of my dysfunctional upbringing. For it was Tiffany and Aimee that would wipe my tears after I had yet another fight with a family member.
It was Tiffany who promised that she would let her father walk me down the aisle at my wedding because she loved me enough to share.
It was Aimee’s home in which I sought solace after every upheaval in mine.
On Christmas mornings, after we were done opening our gifts, we could call one another. Tiffany and I always knew we would be done relaying the few gifts we received in a matter of minutes, but we would hang on to every word and detail about the Espirit outfits with matching accessories Aimee had received.
We knew one another’s grandparents and loved them like our own. We visited their homes, had dinners together, and have Kodak pictures to prove it.
I can still see Josie, Aimee’s grandmother, when I close my eyes. She would be dressed to the nine with a big smile across her beautiful round Italian face. I have memories of sleeping at Josie’s house and going to Aimee’s ice skating lesson with her the next day.
We were there as Aimee’s parents divorced and witnessed the pain it caused her when she had to leave her family home and move into an apartment downtown. We watched her navigate shared holidays and weekends, not totally understanding it, but by her side in support. She was always extremely stoic, but I believe she knew if she needed to cry, we would be there.
We chased boys. We learned about sex. We drank Bartles and James wildberry wine coolers together and soothed one another’s broken teenage hearts.
I was the Taylor Swift of the 80s filling journals with lovelorn poetry.
They never tired of listening to me recite poem after poem about whatever boy I was fixated on that week, although most times it was only one. (Trust me, they will know who I mean!) Who knows? Maybe they did grow tired, but loved me enough to stay on the phone anyway.
Although we had other friends, we knew each other best and never fathomed it any other way, until the summer of my sophomore year.
Nothing could have prepared us for the revelation that Tiffany was going to be moving to Georgia. We were devastated and counted down the days of the summer before she left. We used her impending move as an excuse for everything: staying out late, being on the phone after hours, and sneaking out of our homes for those last moments spent together. The move was almost surreal, but in the end, she had to go and we were forced to say goodbye.
At the time, the three of us believed that would be the end, but through phone calls and many letters, we all remained friends, and no matter how much time had passed, we would pick up right where we left off. I have never laughed as hard or cried as hard as I have with the two of them.
We had our fights and times when we did not speak for a while, but we always gravitated back toward one another.
One of the worst fights I ever had with Aimee was over a boyfriend of mine that she despised (for good reason, I realize now!), but we had gone months without talking. I remember hearing she had been mugged while in Philadelphia, but due to my immaturity, I never called her to see how she was. Pride can be a real b*itch.
Yet, when I lost my baby Michael, one of the only things I remember about his funeral was seeing Aimee approach with a journal in her hand. She came up to me and hugged me and told me how sorry she was. She told me I could write all about him in there. She even inscribed the inside cover with the sentiment. I was so relieved that day to see her. To know that no matter what, she was still my best friend.
As I sit here sobbing as I write this article, I am struck with the thought that everything happens for a reason. On my way to the grocery store, I couldn’t stop thinking about my old friend Aimee. I miss her, but here I am again, my pride in the way and unsure what to do.
You see, it’s been over four years since we last spoke, and in that time, I have spent countless hours and days reflecting upon my behaviors, my reactions, and my responses to her during our last phone call. The initial reason for the argument seems ridiculous to me now, but it escalated into so much more.
What started as a disagreement over my going rogue in an MLM scheme (we had gotten ourselves involved in), evolved into a screaming match over why she confides things in Tiffany and not in me, and how I care about her too. I regressed back to that five-year-old version of Lydia during that time: insecure, jealous, and full of anger. Emotions were high, and I was still in a fragile state at the time. Although I had been home from the hospital for almost two years and was continuing to work with a therapist, past situations continued to unveil new anger and resentments in me, including the ones I held against her for something that happened 25 years earlier.
What I had yet to understand (at the time) was that in our immaturity, we all did the best we could at that time—including Aimee.
Also, until recently, the impact of my past traumas had remained unbeknownst to me.
Whenever I felt shunned, not included, or unworthy of being let in on my best friend’s life, my reaction and sadness all stemmed from an injured place. It felt out of my control and unable to comprehend.
At the time, despite my hard work, I was still so unhappy inside. And that night, prior to our telephone call, I was numbing my sadness with wine. The wine inhibited my ability to converse with my childhood friend rationally. I blamed her for the way I was feeling, but in actuality, it was my own sh*t, and I owe her a sincere apology.
But I am afraid. I am afraid of being rejected. I am afraid that my sincerest attempt to ask forgiveness from my oldest and dearest friend will be denied, and therefore, I freeze and do nothing. I lie to myself and believe it is for the best. I tell myself to just treasure the memories. And every year, more time passes, and the distance that must be overcome to reconnect continues to grow.
I wonder, has too much time passed?
Could we pick up where we left off or were the words I spoke too hurtful?
Words, I can somewhat recall, but not all of them. Words I can never take back. My last memory of the call was of her crying and me being angry about it, most likely due to the fact that I never could cry.
Would she believe me if I told her how much work I have done on myself?
That I understand my behaviors now and continue to work to comprehend them on a deeper level every single day?
Would she believe me when I tell her I have stopped drinking alcohol? Does any of that even matter? Would she even care?
I did not attend a 12 Step program to stop drinking, but I am familiar with the steps. I know that in one of them, you are supposed to make amends for those you have wronged or hurt. I’ve hurt many people in my life, and when I asked my spiritual healer about making amends, she told me the amends is in my actions, not in saying I am sorry.
Tiffany and I have remained close, but even we have grown apart as of late. I know she probably prays that the three of us will be together again someday. It’s been a long time since she has said it to me, but she had once made a statement that Aimee and I would make up, which I quickly dismissed at the time.
I long for the days that the three of us could just sit cross-legged on my bedroom floor while reading through my old journals and laughing so hard we almost pee our pants.
In honor of Women’s Friendship day, I am going to bury my pride and pick up my phone to call my old friend and apologize. She may or may not pick up. For all I know, she may have blocked my number, but I am at least going to try.
And if I get her voicemail, all I am going to say is, “It’s me. I am sorry and just wanted to tell you I still love you and always will. I’m here if you are willing to talk.”
I refuse to let my pride stand in the way any longer.
Life is too short, too unpredictable, and childhood friendships are far too special to let go without a fight to salvage one that’s been damaged.
Just as Ben Rector says with regard to friendships, “You can grow up, make new ones.”
But the truth is that we grow up and wish we could go back because “There’s nothing like old friends.”
I’ve loved you both since we were five, and always will.