Remembering Old Times, Reviving New Friendships with Friend #182: Amy and Friend #183: Erin

Friend #182: Amy
Date and Location of Visit: Tuesday, October 18, 2011, Wasabi Sushi, Town and Country, MO
Known from: Church growing up, Dance growing up, Preschool, Elementary through High school
Last seen: 2007

Memories of Amy:  There were very few days of the first several years of my life in which Amy was not present.  Like Jenny and Cathleen, we grew up at church together since before we could walk. Amy and I also took dance lessons at the same dance school, so we saw each other there a couple times a week.  I have pictures of us in all sorts of creative costumes.  Then, we were in the same home room class for the first 3 or 4 years of elementary school, which I didn’t know until my mom compiled a notebook that contained all of my class pictures.

We were parts of different friend groups through junior high and high school, but I continue to experience how my relationships from those early years have a potency and resonance that transcends time and distance and differences in a way that I still struggle to articulate.

About our Visit:  The second I saw Amy, I felt at home like a baby in her mama’s lap, and she and I probably shared a lap or two back in the day, so the feeling wasn’t too far off!  There’s something about looking into the face of someone you’ve known for a long time that conjures something comforting, but not entirely expressible.  And that’s what I felt with Amy.

She has found the perfect niche as a second grade teacher, and it was so fun to think of her at the front of a classroom.  She and I had the same second grade teacher, so to remember us at that age and to know that she is now the teacher was a little bit trippy.  We have older brothers the same age and have known each other’s families, so we caught up on family.  Her mom is still friends with a few other moms of people we went to elementary school with.  I’ve heard that in can be hard to fit in in St. Louis if you aren’t from there–that it’s the biggest small town out there.  But if you are from there, the relationships really seem to last.

Like with Jenny and Cathleen, since Amy and I knew each other from church, we talked about spiritual things.  Amy has found a church that is relevant to her life.  And I was surprised.  My experience of midwestern spirituality growing up was that there was a religiosity to it–you went to church because that’s what everybody did unless you were Jewish or Muslim or Hindu.  It was full of rules and doing things because you were “supposed to.”  But as I went off to college and found my way in the world, I found my way in my spirituality, too, finding expressions that suited me because it’s what I wanted to do.  It’s encouraging to reconnect with others who have done the same.

Friend #183: Erin
Date and Location of Visit: Tuesday, October 18, 2011, Araka, Clayton, MO
Known from: Elementary school
Last seen: 1997

Memories of Erin: Erin moved to my elementary school in 6th grade.  We never really had a lot of classes together, so we weren’t ever all that close, but I always liked her.  I remember her as on the quieter side, but she always had a fun spark if you took the time to get to know her better.

About our Visit:  Even though she had just come from work to meet me, there was a calm to Erin that made me so relaxed and at ease.  Her personality type (I haven’t pulled out the Myers-Briggs typology jargon on too many people on the trip, which may surprise some of you reading this) is nicknamed The Counselor, and sitting with her for a few hours, it totally fits–it felt like we’d been good friends for years.  I have a feeling people tell Erin a lot, “I feel like I’ve known you forever.”

Erin is an attorney who returned to St. Louis not quite two years ago, after law school in Boston and a significant stint in Chicago.  The firm where she works made a specific and intentional effort to gather together people who were congenial and likable, which makes for a very satisfactory work environment.  Don’t we all wish our bosses hired other people we liked?

A unique flavor to these hometown visits is that I will actually be back in town fairly often.  And like many of my visits, my reaction to spending several hours with Erin was, “Wow, we would actually be friends if we lived in the same place!”  We stayed in the bar long after they closed and could easily have kept talking.  We found a lot of points of connection. As I spend more time in St. Louis, I could see myself living there more and more easily, which is utterly shocking to me.  So I was asking Erin a lot of questions about what a young, urban life in St. Louis looks like.  And she made it seem pretty interesting and attractive.

Through my conversation with Erin, asking about who she kept in touch with from high school, I was able to connect with another friend on Facebook who I’ll hopefully see when I get to Boston!

There was such an ease and a joy to connecting with both Amy and Erin–hometown friends from a long time ago.  But there’s an exciting newness now from this recent reconnection, and I’m excited to stay connected in these revived friendships.


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