I’ve been writing this post in my mind for 35 years. There are eight of us. The first, I met within weeks of being born since our mothers were friends. The last, I met when we were 12 years old. Throughout the years, we have been through every imaginable right of passage together. Weddings under the monkey bars morphed into real weddings under arches. “Playing house” turned into parenthood and home ownership. One moved away, and then another, and then one returned. Through it all, we were there. There were others who came and went throughout the years, but always, eight remained. Childhood spats threatened to fracture us, but somehow, someway, we always managed to come back together. We saw each other through first loves and broken hearts, through domestic violence and overbearing, or sometimes absent parents. Families fell apart, and reemerged in new forms. And through it all, always, eight remained.
There were sleep over parties and dance contests, school dances and graduations. There were 8th grade ski trips and school field trips.
There were concerts and road trips and summers at the Jersey shore. Sometimes there were six, or seven, or even five in the picture, but always, in some way, there were eight.
There were drunken exploits and stolen moments with boys that parents didn’t know about. There was soccer and field hockey and softball. To this day, there are vivid memories of piling into a parent’s all-to-small hatchback to be transported, clown-car-style, from a school softball game to a Police Athletic Association softball game on nights when we had “double-headers.” There was healthy competition. There was the girl who dropped the ball on the last play of the game (I won’t name her name, but we all know who she is.), costing my team the win, and granting it to the team of another of the eight. There were lazy summer days spent singing in the gazebo in the center of our two-stoplight town, without a care in the world as to who might hear us. There was “operation mall watch,” which resulted in at least one boyfriend entering the sacred circle of sisterhood that we took with us everywhere we went.
We were each, in our own way, struck by the insecurities of adolescence and the jarring self-doubt that can cripple a young woman. And we pulled each other out of it in tact, one by one. Some struggled more than others, but we all made it out alive.
There was college and grad school for some, and the crushing loss of a parent. There were inconsolable times when we simply cried together. There were hurtful words exchanged. There were apologies and new understandings as we all emerged as the adults we would become. There were weddings and children and career paths to find. Some of us found one easier than another, but we all found our way. All eight of us are married now, with a smattering of children among us and more on the way. Our husbands joke about how we always talk about our home town and the “good old days.” It may be true, but it deserves the deference we give it.
As our childhood and adolescent years passed, there was a feeling of admiration and sometimes envy from those around us, and a constant recognition by each of us that we were extraordinarily lucky to have each other. When those around us said we’d lose touch when we went off to college, we knew it wasn’t true. I don’t think any of us ever doubted that we would make it through in tact. Of course, we went our separate ways. We forged new friendships, some of which lasted, and others that did not. We experienced life in our own individual ways, but always influenced by what we had known as “home” growing up. We each chose a different path, but each of our paths are now, and will forever be, intertwined in ways that other people can’t ever fully comprehend. We started our journey together as babies and young children. Today, as women, we continue our journey, with an ever-present understanding that we will be there for each other through life’s twists and turns. At any given moment, I would drop whatever I was doing to be there for any of these women if they needed me, and it provides an incredible sense of comfort and security to me to know that they, in turn, would each do the same for me. We are uniquely fortunate to have a formed a lifelong bond from so early on. So this post is for the eight, who always remained, and always will. I love you.