Friend #47: Carly

One of the people I was most excited to reconnect with on this trip is Carly. She and I were friends through the majority of elementary school, and she moved away during junior high.  Haven’t seen her for the past 20 years.  I don’t remember who found whom on Facebook, but I remember being so excited, probably because the idea to visit my friends was in the back of my mind at that point.  And if you can sense someone’s coolness on Facebook after not seeing them for 20 years, I had the sense that Carly was super cool.

Carly and I had planned to meet in the evening, but she ended up meeting the lead singer of the Flaming Lips and scoring free tickets to their concert that evening.  Yeah.  Carly got a LOT cooler than me after junior high.  So we ended up meeting for breakfast at Feed, not far from Kindra’s neighborhood on the near west side of Chicago.  It was a great reunion from the moment she sat down.

What is it about elementary school friends that resonates so deeply?  When I went to my 10-year class reunion from high school, the people I was most excited to talk to were the people who I went to elementary school with.  Is it the sheer length of memory?  The nostalgia of early childhood innocence?  What we can offer each other from our memories of our mini-selves?

Our conversation flowed so easily as we did the brief rundown of life since the age of 12.  I remember that Carly was smart, and she played piano very well.  And now she’s a musician, creatively conspiring with two other artists to form a women’s collective that puts on quarterly events.  She’s also a nanny.  Previously, she worked on just about every college campus in Chicagoland.  We talked about how the hard things in our lives shaped the choices that we made, and being content with the way our lives looked, even if it was different than what we expected.

At some point, the conversation was interrupted by the ketchup bottle exploding into Carly’s lap.  She was a good sport about it.  Literally.  It was like she took a bath in ketchup.  But the conversation didn’t skip a beat.

We talked about our families. “I remember being scared of your mom,” Carly told me.  “I always wanted to do everything right around her.”  I just remember that Carly practiced piano a lot more than I did, so I assumed her mom was strict, too.  Carly got to skip school the day after attending rock concerts.  I guess my 20-year-old interpretation of my memories from age 12 were a little bit off.

And we talked about the many, many things we remembered from the old days.  We reminisced about elementary school crushes (Andrew for her, Aaron for me) and jealousies (Melissa).  We talked about the awful things we thought and did as kids–or I recalled some awful things I did (accusing aforementioned Melissa of cheating on a test) and she recalled awful things that were done to her (she was bullied in junior high before she moved away).  But here’s the courage of junior-high Carly: she actually confronted the girls who were bullying her and asked them why they were doing it.  They said they didn’t know why, and they stopped.

I could see tenacity like that all over Carly’s life in the stories she told.  She was going make it through and be authentic in the journey.  Oh, and make really good music as a result.  Keep on rockin’ it, Carly!  Whether with the Flaming Lips or to your own tune.

Carly and me at Feed. Her dress shows no traces of the ketchup that exploded from the bottle into her lap.


One Response

  1. Ann, it was so amazing to see you. I hope you do pick up your journey again at some point and I sincerely hope another twenty years doesn’t pass before our paths cross again. Best of luck with everything!

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