The year my dad’s company transferred our family up north was the hardest year of my life to leave. I had great friends, I had made the jv basketball team (likely because I was leaving). It was truly the happiest year.
The year before I’d been suspended from school. For 3 months. Doesn’t matter why, especially since classmates later came and said they’d done the same, just got away with it. Little consolation. But that suspension changed my life.
Public schools were not the moral soapboxes they are today. They actually taught Latin. But people, though maybe not rough around the edges behaved rougher. There was definite lack of restraint.
Yet even so this was where I met a girl my age who to this day is likely the best friend I ever had. She and I were so much alike. We laughed at the same things, got mad about the same things, hated snobs of all kinds, we were total free spirits. She accepted me despite my tarnished reason for being at her school. Even though I’d never said why gossip in middle school is like wildfire. I was tough and Betsy didn’t care why I was there. We were friends. Basically the only difference between us, I smoked back then and she did not. So I didn’t, either while we were friends.
Anyways, even after my suspension and I’d resumed my academic pursuits at the school that threw me out we remained friends. Short-lived because the following winter my family moved away. My heart broke, not just because I would lose my first real, true friend but my life would change. There was an event horizon I could not avoid, like a black hole and I was going to reach a point of no return.
Betsy gave me a small soft-cover gift book before I left, “Friendship Is…”, compiled by Gilbert Hay. I practically memorized every poem or quote in that book. The quote from this book, my last in the challenge–
“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out. –Walter Winchell–
It did not matter to her what happened, why I’d been tossed out of school, what I’d done. She was the only person I met who could genuinely see past a mistake to the person. Oh I made other friends while I was there, mostly people who enjoyed the thrill of association with a renegade. But Betsy showed me that real friendship sees past everything and only sees what’s real.
We did lose touch. We wrote for a few months but in the maelstrom of transitioning from pre-adolescence to becoming driving teenagers, high school, dating, college we lost touch. The last I’d heard she’d achieved popularity status sufficient to being elected mayor of the town we grew up in but before she could be pigeon-holed she was whisked away by her knight in shining armor after a whirlwind wedding to Pennsylvania.
And this time I was the one left behind.
“It is not how many friends you’ve won in life that counts, but how many you have left. That is the acid test. For it is easy to make them, harder to hold them.” — Unknown
“A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” –Proverbs 18:24