Growing up in Ohio meant that many of my friends were not LDS. And those of my friends that were LDS, always seemed to move away. I've been thinking about these friends - some of which I've been able to get back in touch with and others who seem lost forever - because several of my good friends have moved away this month. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, I've been through the experience enough, but it still is sad.
Tawnee Johnson - Tawnee was my best friend when I was a wee little girl. I remember slumber parties at her house, playing mancala and legos (our legos would sleep together *gasp*) and potpourri fights down in her unfinished basement. We would always leave the fights smelling flowery fresh, thinking that her parents didn't know what we were doing. But once, her dad made a comment to Tanner and asked if he was wearing perfume. We tried really hard not to look guilty, but I don't think we succeeded. She had an older sister named Billie, and two younger brothers Tanner and Mac. They would make jokes about Mac being a cannibal when he ate mac-and-cheese. I always wanted Amy to marry Tanner and Tawnee and I would plan their wedding. They weren't allowed to fart at the dinner table, so I distinctly remember Tawnee and Tanner and Mac all getting up and standing just in the door frame of the dining room to do just that. Tawnee had asthma, and once when we were playing in the basement of her neighbor's house, I had to run back to her house to get her inhaler. I thought she was going to die. When she moved, I was really sad.
Ashley Wright (Belnap) - The Wrights (now Belnaps) were friends of our parents, which meant that we spent many Sundays playing at their house. It worked out well because they had two girls around mine and Amy's age and for the most part we got along great and played all sorts of games like... that one where you pass around something and it is supposed to be a dog bone or a button? I don't remember. Both my dad and their dad played basketball and all of us would go to the stake center and listen to my mom and Donna heckle the refs and cheer for the team, and I just remember that whole family being hilarious...they still are hilarious. Since my parents are good friends with their parents, we would see each other every few years. It was always really awkward at first, trying to reconnect and find the friendship. We were successful nearly every time, though. Once, when they were in Ohio visiting, the four of us girls lay near our bedroom window overlooking the street and shouted things at the pedestrians (likely drunks from the Irish pub we live across the street from). We did this until we thought we were caught and police lights started flashing nearby.
Paige Schwendiman - Paige came later in elementary, just before junior high. We had a lot of slumber parties too, and Amy was friends with her sister Lauren. Sometimes the four of us got along, and sometimes we all fought. And usually, it was the sisters that were fighting and it made it awkward for everyone. When they spent the night at our house, we would play Nintendo...usually Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers. I remember dragging them to the pool and swimming even though our lips were blue. I got really attached to Paige, and when she told me they were moving to California, I was devastated. Even more so that she was excited to be leaving instead of sad that she was going. When I came to BYU, I don't know how, but we found out that we lived near each other and did lunch a few times.
Jessica Bradfield - Jessica was funny. Not in a laugh-out-loud, hysterical sort of a way. But in a, "I can't believe what you are telling me sort of way." She was tall and skinny with long strawberry, blond hair. She insisted that she was a leg model, basketball player for the Dayton Flyers and a bunch of other things that weren't true. We tried to get her to play young women's basketball because we needed the extra girls and she was tall. She also had told us that she played, but when we got down to the details, we realized that it couldn't be true. She told us that she played for a team in Dayton, but she never had to go to practice because, "Her coach understood how far away she lived." She couldn't attend our games because she had games of her own. We finally convinced her to come play, and when she did...she was terrible. Uncoordinated, not aggressive, couldn't defend, dribble or shoot. It was amazingly bad. We did not insist that she play after that one game. Still, she was my one friend in junior high, but at the end of one year, her mom decided that she hated Ohio and they packed up and moved away. We kept in touch through letter writing for a while, but then the letters grew further and further apart and then they stopped.
Jessica Hobbs - Jessica was my best friend since first grade. In fourth grade, we were separated and not put in the same class, and then fifth and sixth the same thing, but we managed to remain friends. We did crazy things. Spent entire summers together. Our houses were interchangeable. We built forts in the "woods" behind her house. We walked everywhere together. Jessica never actually moved, but she did move on. In sixth grade she started becoming friends with another Jessica in her class and that was the start of her expanding her circle. I never needed more than one or two friends at a time, and have never been good at making friends. By tenth grade, she was out going to parties and hanging out with people that I didn't know. She had a nickname, "Headshot Hobbs" which I had no idea what that meant. And then I started hearing rumors about what she was doing... or whatever, and I didn't know how to handle the news. At one point, I thought that Jess would join the church eventually. She came to church, all the dances, the midweek activities, she even came to seminary with me freshman year. I thought that she didn't swear, drink, etc. because she didn't want to, but I guess she didn't do it in front of me. By junior year, I was off to Edison and she stayed at the high school no matter how much I tried to get her to come with me. It was at that point that we really drifted apart. We tried to keep our friendship going, but in the end, it was a lot of work and by graduation, I was done. Every now and again, we will "catch up" on Facebook. But for the most part, I do not see or hear much from her. When we had our falling out (more dramatic for me than her, I think) I thought that I had wasted eleven years of my life on our friendship. But I've since come to realize how special our friendship was while it lasted, and that people grow up and move on, and that's all that has happened with us.
Now it seems like moving is inevitable. Our futures are volatile. Within months we can be accepted to grad school, offered a job, get married, have a baby....etc. etc. And then, gone. Luckily, Facebook and email and texting allows us to stay better connected, and it's harder to lose track of friends even if you still lose the connection that you have before. People change and sometimes all that is left are the memories and good times.