25 Birthdays

I had a great idea for a birthday post that I began prepping weeks ago. Then life got the best of me and it didn’t come together. So I will save it for next year. That’s the nice thing about birthdays, they come around year after year. It’s also the annoying thing about aging, it happens year after year. And so, this is my backup plan.

Today is the birthday of my friend Kelly. Anyone who reads this blog knows Kelly, she is a regular here at Changelivlife. Kelly and I first met in 1989, during the 5th grade. We were 10 years old. The origins of our story are blog fodder, she says I was the first person to be nice to her, I say I complimented her fingernails. Today, I’m still nice to her and she still has great fingernails. Life doesn’t change much.

But then, we are much older. Education and family and marriage and children and jobs and homes and sadness and pain and laughter and tears and photographs and beer and so many things have happened that in many ways, everything has changed.

It is a fact of life that things change, but somehow, after 25 years, we are still friends. It boggles the mind to think that a friendship could outlast the changes it has endured, but somehow, we have defied the odds.

In 1989, the first birthday we celebrated was Kelly’s 11th. I think it was at her house on Fremont, though I could be mixing it up with other birthdays, there’ve been 25 of them in total. It was the first birthday we celebrated together. Today, we gather to celebrate her 36th. Back then, if you had asked me, I would have giggled and said we’d be so OLD then, 25 years in the future. I would have invented stories for us. Kelly would have become a teacher (even at the age of 10, she knew what she wanted to do) and I would have created a story for myself. A lawyer or a circus performer or a traveling gypsy (even today I still don’t know what I want – or perhaps I want too much) and we would have argued over which of us would be married to Jordan Knight (she can have him) or Tom Cruise (I doubt either of us would take him now) and how many children we would have.

I know that neither of us would have doubted for a moment that we’d still be friends in 25 years. Children have a blindness to them. They don’t fully grasp the mysteries of time, the savageness of life, how things can change and people can change and life can turn you inside out. Children don’t understand. They live life by faith and happiness. My friend makes me happy, therefore we will always be friends. That kind of simplistic thinking is beautiful in its way. Most of the time it is unrealistic, but beautiful nonetheless.

When I think like that, it is rather remarkable that we are still friends, after all these years. We very nearly did not make it. We lost time. But we found our way back to one another and are close once again. Today we celebrate her birthday for the 25th time since we met.

Today, I wish I could go back and tell those little girls. “Don’t ever stop believing in the power of friendship. You will see others fail. You will be challenged. Life will get hard at times. But for every hard moment is a moment of joy with a best friend that can never be replaced. Don’t ever give up on each other, you will make it. You will stay forever friends. Those jagged heart necklaces are truth. When you are older than you can imagine, you will still always be friends.”

But I can’t talk to those girls, they are long gone, just memories in our hearts. But I can talk to us today. To Kelly, to myself and I can say this.

I am so grateful for the days of our friendship. I am grateful that we survived our breakup to become stronger friends. I love that I can call you for any reason or no reason at all. I love that we are each other’s family and can count on one another no matter what comes. I am happy when I am with you and happy knowing you are in my corner when we are apart. We laugh together, we tell stories, we keep secrets, we take pictures, and we are, as we have always been, the very best of friends. I never want to forget or take us for granted. We are so lucky to have each other.

Happy birthday, Kelly. Let’s get started on the next 25 years.

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