December 13, 2010

Old Friends

It's been a trying start to the month, and I haven't picked up a camera in two weeks.  My evenings free from the usual editing/studying/blogging, I've actually carved out some time to read for pleasure.  I'd forgotten what that even was?? as my nightstand has been littered with parenting/greening/nutrition/photography non-fiction over the last few years.   But The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship, was the perfect way to dive back in (thanks, Kel!).  Although I wouldn't categorize it as literary genius, any woman with lifelong friends should indulge herself.

And by lifelong friends, I mean this...
   ...with that written on the back. 
PS.  It is abundantly clear where our daughters get their fashion sense.
Coincidentally, I noticed in Blogger this week that Candidly Christina is 95 posts old.  So this makes #96.  As in the "96 RULES!" we etched on the frosty windows of childhood schoolbuses.  Coupled with nostalgia The Girls stirred up, it became very clear who should be featured in this post.

It takes a long time to grow an old friend. ~John Leonard

These are friendships that began in grade school, blossomed in middle & high school, multiplied in college, matured in our 20s, and by now have come to feel like home.  These girls are the sorority I never rushed, the sisters I never had.  So with no recent material of my own, I've decided it's time to showcase other photographers.  Even if I can't be certain who was behind the camera for most of these photos, I am forever grateful to the anonymous clickers of shutters who have helped to capture our decades together.

The joys of first crushes and the heartbreaks of first loves.
Party hair, pegged jeans, an unflattering obsession with flannel shirts & overalls.
Mix tapes and Girls' Night Outs.
College admissions, new roommates, football Saturdays.
Declaring (switching) majors and pulling all-nighters.
East Lansing tundras and spring break beaches.
Accepting job offers and planning cross-country moves.

Of course, is not all cake and balloons like you see captured here.  We're human; he have shortcomings, annoyances, and we vent about one to another from time to time.  In our younger years, we even broken the cardinal rule of (gasp!) dating each other's ex-boyfriends.  We've lost touch with a couple of girls in the above photos.  Naturally, we developed separate friendships outside of the group; I am grateful to have gotten to know these "friends of friends" over the years, a few of them now near and dear to my own heart and family.  Like marriage, it takes work to maintain friendships, especially once the little ones come along and the schedules become increasingly crazy.  But at least once a month, we make an effort to carve out a little girl time -- brunches, shopping trips, meeting for coffee or drinks, dinner parties.  Occasionally, if they're lucky, hubbies and kiddies are permitted to join in on the fun.

"The most beautiful discovery true friends make 
is that they can grow separately without growing apart."  
~Elizabeth Foley

As author Jeffrey Zaslow described women who had nurtured decades-long friendships, "They said they felt like traveling companions, sharing the same point on the timeline, hitting the same milestones together --thirty, forty, fifty, eighty.  They believed their friendships thrived because they had raised some expectations and lowered others.  They had come to expect loyalty and good wishes from each other, but not constant attention."   

In the last decade especially, it is that loyalty and those good wishes (plus many prayers) that have helped us to celebrate the highest of highs, and provided us with the strength to get through the lowest of lows.  Engagements and weddings, broken engagements and divorce.  The death of a parent.  Health scares -- our own, our spouses', our children's, our parents'.  Job changes and insecurities.  Shoebox apartments and dream homes.  Family conflicts.  Infertility, pregnancy, miscarriage (including one gone horribly wrong), worrisome ultrasounds, and finally, the births of healthy babies...Lots and lots of babies!  The raw emotions of becoming new moms:  pure bliss countered with complete helplessness.  Sleepless nights, career hiatuses, and parenting woes.  Struggling to find balance.

Most of us are oldest children; the stereotypical go-getters who, into our twenties, were able to accomplish most of what we set our minds to.  In recent years though, God has taught us a thing or two about how much (er, little) control we have in certain situations and relationships.  It is in these times that close girlfriends and a bottle of wine trump a good therapist.
I didn't know at the time, but it was another baby girl I had cooking in that belly.  I wept tears of joy when Molly was born, so elated to have 2 girls, sisters.  But at the end of the day, I wish for my daughters not only to find a best friend in each other; I also pray that they are as blessed with girlfriends --old friends-- as I am.


  1. I am so grateful to be a part of those pictures and all of those kind words :) My friendships with you girls is one of the truest blessings in my life! Thankyou Christina for writing so beautifully for all of us!! xoxo!!

  2. Speechless, happy, and wanting to go into the basement to dig out my old pics too! I know there are many more years of joy (and pain) to come. Love you, Ang

  3. Wow!! I love this post. Your writing made me tear up a few times. I so enjoyed looking at those pictures...trying to figure out who is who. :) Great work! Danielle