Hanging Out With Old Friends

Hanging Out With Old Friends

Hanging Out with Old Friends, Saying

“Remember When…”

As we grow older and everything around us is changing rapidly, our long-time friends remind us of who we are. They know a lot about us, and everything feels comfortable. They offer us a sense of family without pressure. They know how to make us feel better, even if we think we are okay. Our past struggles do not seem so hard with someone who knew us way back when. If they are still in the picture, they are a person who loves us unconditionally.

When I first met my best friend Mary, we were in Grade Two. We both loved Miss Cook, our teacher at Queensbury Elementary School in North Vancouver, B.C.

Looking for Normal “Miss Cook was classy and glamorous, with a bee-hive hairdo, matching skirts and jackets, go-go boots and frosted pink lipstick. She could have been a model in the Simpson Sears or Eaton’s catalogue. She spoke softly and was very kind. I was shy and overly obedient.”

Mary was not shy at all; she was the “pick me, raised hand, bottom out of her seat” kind of student. She rarely got picked, which only made her try even harder the next time.

Looking for NormalEyes fixed on the Queen every morning with her ruby red lipstick, pleasant smile and sideways pose. Singing God Save the Queen, followed by the Lord’s Prayer until it was engrained into our pint-sized heads. These segments and flashbacks of elementary school are unforgettable.

I lived two blocks from the school and went home for lunch every day. Mary stayed for lunch at school because she lived too far away. Besides, her mother had five children and a job outside the home, so it would have been much too confusing for Mary to eat lunch at home. Therefore, we got in the habit of Mary coming over to my house to eat lunch with me. 

In 1966, our favourite lunch was Campbell’s Tomato Soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. Sometimes we were given Swanson’s Chicken Pot Pie, the individual kind, and if my mother was in a rush, then it would be Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup that came in an envelope in a red box. We loved the tiny noodles. Crackers were smashed, crumbled, or dipped as an accompaniment.

When Mary came home for lunch with me, we were always late going back to school. Talking, laughing, and playing took up most of our time. School always came second, especially to Barbie dolls.

Me and Mary 1966

I moved away in Grade Nine to Mission, British Columbia, and Mary and I lost touch. 

When I moved away and left Mary, I had no friends in my new community. Although I lived with my parents on a hobby farm, in a log cabin which my father built, I felt completely alone out there. I had a horse, chickens, pigs, and an above-ground swimming pool.

Looking for Normal – “Starting Grade Nine in a new school made me think that perhaps I might be more popular. Maybe my grades would get better, and just maybe I would become thinner, prettier, and less shy.”

Climbing aboard the school bus in 1973, I was filled with anxious excitement. I was starting fresh, beginning something new; fearful and yet joyful. 

Making my way to an empty seat on the school bus, a friendly voice, and an even friendlier face invited me to sit with her. She had thick blonde hair, a slight overbite, and braces. Her name was Barb, or Barbie to her family, and Barbara to my mother. But I started right off the bat, calling her Barb.

We liked each other instantly. By the time we had arrived at school, we had already made plans to hang out together that same day after school.

With Barb, I went shopping at the mall and enjoyed attending her Scottish Dancing recitals. We both had first boyfriends at the same time. We relished our time horseback riding and cruising the strip in my parent’s car. Eventually, the inevitable arrived, our high school graduation.

Barb and I hit the disco floor in our late teens when we moved to Palm Springs together. Even though we got into some sticky situations, we sure laughed about our many adventures and shared fiascos.

Where is My Happy Ending? – A Journey of No Regrets – “We discovered in 1979, the drinking age of twenty-one was not closely monitored, and that two fresh-faced Canadian girls could cause quite a stir in this swanky, upscale town.

After entering the nightclub on our first attempt, we cruised through unnoticed. Feeling empowered, we gave each other a half shrug and a knowing glance. Surprised but not showing it, we were thrilled to have gotten in past the tinted glass doors with just a coy smile directed towards the bouncers.

Karen and Barb (Sara) Newport Beach, California, 1979

When we arrived home in Vancouver, we got jobs and began looking for Mr. Right. Shortly after that, Barb moved away. 

I met Dawna, another best friend, at one of my first jobs. She was clad in a spandex leotard, leg warmers, and a headband. It was 1980 at The European Health Spa in Vancouver.

Where is My Happy Ending? – A Journey of No RegretsI enjoyed my first two days of work just fine, but on my third day, I was informed that I would be teaching the next day’s aerobics class. I felt panicked and unsure of how I would pull off an exercise class that I had no experience in teaching.

As I pondered my dilemma, out of the Sales Office bounded a tall brunette girl, about my age and dressed as I was in a black leotard and high heels with a badge that read Dawna – Head Girl. Her bouncy shoulder-length permed hair set off her dynamic personality. I was captivated by her enthusiastic voice and was all ears as she began to explain how easy it would be for me to teach a thirty-minute aerobics class.”

Soon Dawna and I rented an apartment together and began adventurous endeavours of teaching fitness, skiing at Whistler, staff parties, night clubs, and working on the Alaska Highway.

Above: Dawna and Karen working on the Alaska Hwy 1982. Below: Karen and Dawna 2012.

Several years passed, and in my early twenties, as the saying goes, “it’s just like riding a bike,” Mary and I reconnected. It was like no time had passed. We were together again, best friends; Lucy and Ethel, Mary Richards and Rhoda Morgenstern, Laverne and Shirley.

Karen as Lucy, Mary as Ethel
Karen and Mary now

Catching up, bringing each other up to speed, sharing our heartbreaks and disappointments and then reminiscing about our past… Babysitting jobs that had gone sideways, science tests we failed; mean teachers, nice teachers; boys we liked, boys we disliked; sleepover parties and all those lunches we had together.

Barb and I stayed in touch and have had many visits in person over the years, and long-distance phone calls. Facebook messages and photos of children, pets, and grandchildren have been consistently shared. Last year we went on a trip together.

Dawna and I have a relationship mostly on What’s App, but when she comes to town, we always connect in one way or another.

Three friendships that span over fifty-four years.

We will all change, but our old friends remain guardians of our memories. We can take stock of our life journey with regrets, or we can work towards no regrets. And figure out what we learned. 

We see how we have evolved with old friends, what was once painful, what mattered, or what we have wholly forgotten.

Remembering what it was like to be someone different from who we are now is indispensable to our growth and integrity. To be with old friends can be warming and comforting.

Over the years, I have strived to keep in touch with Mary, Barb, and Dawna.

Sometimes I see one best friend more than others, but I hold them all close to my heart. Our lives have changed, evolved, and grown, occasionally in different directions and paralleling from time to time. We listen, we talk, we learn. We share mishaps and feats, struggles and strengths, grief and healing, fear and courage.

As an added note, your best friend does not have to be with you 24/7 or think and act like you. Despite all the changes a person goes through in their life, a best friend will stick by you and always accept you for who you are.

Honourable mention…

I recently connected with my grade five best friend Elizabeth from Queensbury, Lee-Ann from Mission high school, and Carol, my dear friend from Maple Ridge. 

Six amazing women from my past are now a part of my present. And don’t get me started on all my NEW friends!

“A friend is the hope of the heart.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

You’re My Best Friend

Song by Queen

“Oh, you’re the best friend that I ever had

I’ve been with you such a long time

You’re my sunshine, and I want you to know

That my feelings are true

I really love you

Oh, you’re my best friend

10 Replies to “Hanging Out With Old Friends”

  1. Great read! Was just thinking of Miss Shaw I remember her purple triangle earrings! First day back from our Christmas break Miss Shaw shows up in a brand new Mini that was given to her ! As with any young boy I has a crush on her!

    1. Awe, you were so sweet Greg, and still are! Thanks for sharing that memory. Isn’t it funny how we can remember triangle earrings and for me, Miss. Cook’s go-go boots, lol

  2. Knew the Pearson’s well my little brother and Steve where friends and I hung out with Mary in high school like you say a bundle of energy. She also taught my stepson at Carson Graham say hi for me great girl fond memories of her

    1. Thanks so much, Brad! I really appreciate your comment and for sharing this memory with me. Mary is awesome, and such a great teacher! The whole family is great! I love remembering way back when 🙂

  3. Great memories Karen. I too have friends like that going back to elementary school. With all my old friends we just pick up where we left off. I think it’s thst way actually with all my friends. I’m glad to call you friend!!

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed my recent blog post, and I totally agree with how wonderful it is when we can pick up where we left off. I now consider you to be in the same category as a dear friend 🙂 Thanks again, Karen

  4. It is so true how talking to old friends brings back our old selves, the ones with so much hope, innocence and future plans. Our lives never follow the road we thought it would but whatever we experienced it made us who we are today. It is however, such a gift to share our youth with those who spent it with us.

  5. I’m officially addicted to your writings. Rumour has it that there’s a third book in the making and I can hardly wait! You take me back and bring me home Karen. The ups and downs, good times and not so good times molded us into who we are. Thanks to social media I have been able to reconnect with old friends, neighbours, classmates and even old boyfriends. This blog is great! Keep them coming Karen!

    1. You are awesome!!! What a treat for an author to have someone enjoy their work as much as you do, Catherine. I am honoured, and my heart is full, thank you! I am halfway through book number three, I am doing a lot of research for this one, and I will have photos like my first book. Stay tuned…

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