Thursday, October 11, 2018

Fifteen

I am 15 and my high school best friend, Jodi, and I are walking around the reservoir, our favorite place to walk because it is quiet and surrounded by water and trees, and it feels to us as majestic as a big lake. We go there for walking, but mainly talking.

Here is a short list of things we might talk about: school, musicals we are in together, practices for the musicals keeping us at school late at night, other activities we do that keep us at school later (is it even legal to keep kids at school all hours of the night), boys, water activities, boys, family stuff, the future, solving the world's problems.

Isn't life grand??? As weird as life is at 15, it's never THAT bad with a friend.


***

I wish I could remember more of the walks and conversations I had when I was a teenager, but I just know it helped me get through the most awkward years. 

I work with teens now and I consider all their questions and uneasiness about themselves and the future and think that I was a lucky one. Even when there were plenty of things to complain or be confused about, everything is better with a good friend.

Jodi paved the way and was one of my first true friends, the kind that sticks by you.

I write about home and the topic of moves and starts and restarts, but I don't often talk about my hometown, Findlay, Ohio. Flag City, USA. Nestled away from the world, a city onto itself.

If I'm honest, most parts of me want to say I'm from anywhere else, any of the other places I've lived. I'll say I'm from North Carolina, even though I lived there far after I was raised. I will always consider myself 'from' there in a way. It's such a home to me.  And yet, I didn't start out there. I didn't even start out in Cleveland, which is the other place I say I'm from, where my family lives and where I go when I visit family. It's the home that got away. I used to say I wished I would have been raised there.

But the home I got was the home I got and it was the one that formed me. And for better or worse I've made peace with it and actually still feel a connection with Findlay, Ohio, however distant I still have managed to stay all these years in miles and heart. 

Later in life I have wondered what came first, my drive to get out of that town or my sense of adventure. 

Once in awhile I also wonder what would have happened if I stumbled upon my future husband when I was 15 like Jodi. Would I have stayed? I already know the answer to that question, but it is interesting anyway. 

As for Jodi, her story is a total movie. Literally. 

We were at Family Video renting a movie when she first talked to her now husband. It was our Sophomore year and that year she went to homecoming with him and I went with a guy that I never spoke to again after that year. That was a million years ago! What if we had grown up in today's time when there are not video stores? Maybe they would have met doing Pok√©mon Go or something. 

If you are young, go outside or go places with your friends, you never know what will happen. Not just because of meeting a future husband or wife (I don't think those are good odds, anyway), but this can be a great thing. If you're not young, pick up the phone and call a friend and invite them to do something in real life. You don't have to wait for someone to call you.

Jodi is one of those friends that keeps the memory of a strange past experience with a small town alive. It only takes one positive memory to blot out a bunch of negative junk. 

I have this dream from time to time and in it are some old friends who didn't want to be my friend as I got older. When we were in high school, we basically stopped being friends all together, and it never made sense to me. Now, I would guess we drifted or became different people. Back then it felt like they stopped liking me for me and I didn't understand after being friends for a long time.

Most of us have probably had a story of friendship gone sour. Good thing this dream usually involves one of my favorite ice cream parlors in town, so it's like a combination of a stand off with these people and something truly delicious and sweet.

Even in the dream, I can almost taste the flavors of the orange and vanilla soft serve swirl. I would go back to Findlay just for that.

Although in a dream everything can feel so real, this part of my past was a LONG time ago. That helps me step back and look for the good things in it, too. The reservoir. Growing up in a safe town. Everyone knows everything about everyone, and while I didn't like that at all, when you find the right people, you are known.

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