Thursday, July 21, 2011

Friendships That Last a Lifetime

The world is a small place. The internet has made it that way. But I had a sudden realization the other day about how HUGE it would suddenly become again if the internet suddenly just. went. away...packed up, just like that. We'd completely panic, running around in circles, totally, hopelessly lost.

But we were still saying the world was a small place, even before the internet. Even in the land of snail mail, the world was shrinking as the airline and cable television industries boomed.

I lived in Germany in my 15th year. I lived on the economy, but went to an American school populated primarily by military children, children who learned at a young age that the world is large, time is precious, and friendships come and go in the blink of an eye. Children who learned to make good, long-lasting friendships quickly. No time to waste. I think the friendships I made that year were probably among the most solid I ever had as a teenager, the ones that you knew would last, if only you could find everyone again...

Now, with the power of Facebook, all of that is so much easier.  I have found many of those friends from my circle in Germany, and it's so great to reconnect.  However, Karen, my closest friend in the group, was a truly random find, many years before Facebook, and I think the story deserves to be retold. 

Karen and I stayed in touch for a few years after returning from Germany in 1984, but eventually time and everyday life stood in the way as it always does, and we lost each other again.  Fast-forward a bit to about 1997 or '98, and I found myself in a career in retail store management.  I was a co-manager at bebe (back before the hoochie-mama line took over, back when they actually sold suits, with a variety of skirt lengths, ranging from law-firm-appropriate to downright scandalous) in a DC suburb.  One day, someone took an order over the phone for a pair of black pants, then left it for me to pack up and send out the next day.

I couldn't believe my eyes.

There was Karen's name, accompanied by a Virginia address!  It couldn't be her - why would she be living in VA?  As far as I knew, she had no ties to the area.  Maybe it was a different Karen G., but her last name was unusual enough that the liklihood would be pretty slim.  I wrote a carefully-crafted thank-you note to accompany the package, making sure to include my first and last name and contact number at the store very clearly at the end.  And sure enough, I got the call soon after.  Oh, coincidence of coincidences!!!  What if the person taking the order had packed it up themselves?  What if she had called a different store location?  What if...? 

We continued to stay in touch from that point on, and she even moved up into my area, working at some of the same stores in which I had worked (although we never managed to work for the same company at the same time, oddly enough).

Then time and life got in the way yet again, and we lost touch again, this time finding her through a mutual friend after hearing that she was living in Florida and had just had a baby boy.  I happened to be 6 months pregnant at this time, as well.  Finally, only just this past weekend, 5 1/2 years later, we were able to get together when she was back in PA visiting her parents.

Samantha, only just over the stomach flu from the day before, was a real trooper, and weathered the 2-hour drive (twice, as we drove up and back in one day) into the absolutely gorgeous cornfield-filled heart of America really well. I would absolutely make that drive again and again, just to experience the rolling hills, tiny, diner-dotted main streets and flag-festooned front porches. I love the nostalgic feel of small towns and the countryside.  I was thrilled to be able to see Karen and her parents again, and to meet her handsome little boy.  I'm telling you folks, this woman has a true heart of gold.  I'm lucky to know her, and so glad fate has brought us back together.




Sorry, couldn't resist adding a bit of fairy dust to this one...

Sammi, still on the mend from her previous day's stomach flu

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Love it, love it, love it. What a powerful passage. True friends withstand time and overcome so many obstacles. I am so happy you and Karen had a great time. The picture of the 4 of you is great but I love the fairy dust photo. Being able to hook up with so many of my friends has been a gift; one I am eternally grateful for in my life. Hope to see you one day soon!~~~Natascha

Chromosomally Enhanced said...

that is to cool! solid friends are far and few between...and funny how we always seem to find our way back to each other...I found my best friend from my childhood and we go in and out of touch but can always pick up were we left off...love this post! smiles

Zoey's mom, Heather said...

Friends make the journey oh so sweet and these kinds of friends,well,they are the very best kind.

doozee said...

I just had to take a break from my post and wander over... I'm glad I did. This brought tears to my eyes! I went to over 20 schools by the time I was done (and I was done because I had enough - I doubled up and finished early). I couldn't agree with what you wrote more.
How awesome that you reconnected! Loved the photo of your friend and Sammi!

Becca said...

Ah, Natascha - another amazing and beautiful member of that group of friends... :-) :-)

Laura said...

That is so sweet Rebecca! Brought a tear to my eye. I know that you will be one of those people in my life. And I am a lucky girl for it!:)

RobMonroe said...

That's so very awesome! I know nobody from before I was about 12, only those that I do know are all from the same group. So glad you could have such a great reunion!

Sally Carter said...

Just catching up with you today - this story is the best! How I hope that one day some random thing will cause our paths to cross in a similar way - would be so very cool to meet you and your family after 'virtually' knowing you!