I had a strange childhood, never quite fitting in, but never completely ostracized. I lived in one town, but had to go to school in another. Having to keep my true home a secret. This made maintaining friendships difficult. (I was also a latchkey kid long before anyone had ever heard the term.)
I had a few friends, at different stages of my life and limited to the circumstances of our environments, but due to changing circumstances and differing life paths we lost touch. Over the years I have tried various methods of finding some of them.
Today I finally tracked down another friend. Unfortunately it is too late to reconnect with Beverley, because I located her through her obituary. The obit didn't list her cause of death, but whatever it was, she was much too young. She was an extraordinary girl, clever and generous, I am sure she maintained those qualities as an adult.
Beverley and I met through our part-time, after school jobs, back in the days of old Ma Bell. We went to different schools, but we didn't live that far away from each other. Beverley not only had her license, she also had a car, and a father who was a policeman! He used to get us movie tickets. We were able to go to three different movie theaters in our town (only one of which still survives today). Where we went depended on what movie was playing.
After we graduated, I went on working for the phone company, moving to a Boston office while Beverley went away to college. We lost touch, but I thought of her, and still do, whenever I go to the movies.
Another friend I met through the job at New England Tel & Tel was Mary Ellen. She also lived within walking distance, and although we went to different schools, she would invite me over to do homework together. I still remember sitting at the counter in her kitchen and watching The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits with her and then having to walk home alone. Always hoping the street lights wouldn't flicker or go out when I passed them. (My history with street lights is the fodder for a future blog.)
After graduation Mel went on to Nursing School while I went on to that full time job with the telephone company in Boston. We stayed in touch throughout most of her years in nursing school. She would invite me to go clubbing with her and her friends from Saint E's. She also introduced me to the first love of my life. (Unfortunately, he broke my heart, and Mel was still seeing his friend and things were too awkward for a couple of young naive teenagers to handle, and we drifted apart.) I also found her through her obit.
I had been trying to find Mel to reconnect for years. When I had last talked to her, Mary Ellen had just earned her nursing degree. She had applied to med school, but had been denied. She wasn't giving up, though, she had every intention of re-applying. I don't know if she ever did, but according to her obituary she was a medical director and much respected, and she lived only a few towns away from me!
Then there was Anne. She was wonderful. She came along at a down point in my life. We were both dating losers, and when we ditched them our friendship continued. We paid a visit to her old college roommate who lived in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a borough of Brooklyn. Alice lived in a large apartment building, in a comfortable one bedroom apartment, with a tiny kitchen and no character, except for the artwork Alice had put on the walls.
We ate at some fantastic restaurants and I got to see my first two Broadway musicals - on Broadway. It was a wonderful visit.
Anne introduced me to the world of Kathleen Woodiwiss and I still thank her for it. We also had a lot of movie nights where a bunch of us would gather for old black & white comedies. You know the type where the lines are funny and it is not all about projectile vomiting.
Anne had a dream. She quit her teaching job and moved to New York City to become an actress.
I understood Anne's dream. I had never wanted to be an actress, writing was my passion.
Unfortunately, Anne's dream was never actualized, she worked as an insurance adjuster while studying acting in NYC, eventually coming back home to another teaching position.
And as with my other friends, as our lives went down different paths. We lost touch until a few months ago when I found her obituary also. (I found both Mel and Anne on the same day.)
These three women had all touched my life in unique ways. They helped me through difficult and/or awkward stages in my "growing up" years. They showed me that there was always a light burning somewhere, and good people who offered healthy friendships.
I wish I could have reconnected with them before they left this world. I'm not sure if they needed to hear the words, but their friendship meant so much to me, that I have never forgotten them.