Chip and Dale Hit the Town
I spent Saturday shopping and lunching with Janice, my best friend in high school. I came home with bags of baubles, three writing journals, and a lot of good stories.
Janice and I met our first day of high school, in typing class. She was new to town, and I was ready for new friends. We were inseparable for four years. Teachers called us “Chip and Dale,” because we talked so fast when we were together — animated, colorful, giggly, silly.
Looks-wise, we were complete opposites. Janice had long, straight blonde hair, I had short, curly black hair. She had the T, I had the A.
How we got out of high school with nary a psychological scratch is beyond me. We put ourselves in many reckless and stupid situations — usually accompanied by Paige and Lorraine. We shared our first drunken moment. Our first police pullover (in the back of a car that was drag racin’ down South Cobb Drive, baby). That party with the soccer team, Paige, and Lorraine; Janice saved my virginity that night (damn her). My infamous night on Vinings Mountain. Drinking lemonade Slurpies and Johnny Walker before school every Friday of our senior year. Getting nailed by Mama for drinking, right after graduation. Those mountain boys, right after graduation.
Spending the night with Janice was always a treat. She had an older brother (I had such a secret crush on him; he was cute and cool and drove a motorcycle), a younger brother, a younger sister. Most times, all the kids hung around when I stayed over. We’d cook and goof and stay up way too late.
Several times a year, we’d get dolled up and Mama would take us somewhere nice for lunch. To this day, Janice and I both love the full restaurant experience; Mama taught us well.
As with many great high school friendships, we drifted apart after graduation. I went to Athens for college, she stayed in town to work. She fell in love and married a few years after graduation, and soon had two boys. I was still living the single life and discovering who I wanted to be. She divorced him, then got marriage right with the second one. We’d get together on occasion, but our lives were too different and we faded away. I think we last saw each other at her 30th birthday celebration. Maybe a Christmas card every couple of years, with empty promises to get together soon.
I found her a few years ago on Classmates.com. I could never remember her married name, and luckily she was listed. We began trading Christmas cards, then e-mails. We finally made plans for lunch about three years ago. She lives an hour away, in a college town. I was a little nervous on the drive there. What if we didn’t click? What was I going to say? Did I need notecards?
But Janice is still Janice. Straightforward, honest, funny, chatty, happy with who she is. We picked up like we’d just walked out of Coach Sumara’s class — Chip and Dale, talking without taking a breath. She’s happily married to her best friend, has raised three great boys (and I mean it; these boys are well-mannered, smart, and going places). She works for the university, and begins taking classes there this fall.
It’s wonderful when you discover that a friendship is real, no matter how many years separate you. Janice is a dear friend again (still), and I love every moment I spend with her.
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