Wise Friends Beyond Their Years Don't Stop Learning
This is a story about Diane. A friend who, even though we haven’t seen each other in years, I know we could pick up right back to where we were 30 years ago when we met. When I was a teenager, she was in her mid-20s.
But First, Some Context
Edna, my mom moved me around a ton when I was younger. It seemed just as we got settled into a new apartment or duplex, she would have a reason to pick up and leave again. At the time, I didn’t know that this wasn't really the “normal” way that most people lived. I was okay with all of it, even the part about redoing my room. But what always made me feel a bit uncomfortable was all of the new people I had to meet through my Mom.
I was a professional when it came to meeting people. I had to endure being the “new girl” all the time at school, so it became just part of my modus operandi. Most of the time, the kids liked me and I liked them, so making friends was very easy.
What was tough though, was meeting my Mom’s new friends’ kids. That was really awkward.
She would make new friends at her new job or in our new apartment complex and eventually we would be invited to their homes, mostly during the evening, mostly on the weekends. Many of these kids were older than me. For example, as a 10 year-old, I would be hanging out with 13- and 14-year-olds. Some were boys. Some were girls. Sometimes there would be both.
It was an odd time for me. Picture this: I was about 80 pounds and under five feet tall. Thick, Coke®-bottle glasses. Greasy hair. (And dang it, no boobs! All those girls had boobs and I had none! Well, I guess it was consistent with what my future self was going to look like.)
I learned many things back in those days from older “friends”. Music was a biggie. I was so ahead of my time! First, I had my brother and sister who, respectively, are 12 and 13 years older than me. Then there were my cousins who babysat me. It’s no wonder why I can sing all the lyrics to almost any classic rock-and-roll song from the 1970s. Fleetwood Mac, The Who, Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR), Boston, Foghat, Foreigner, Steve Miller...geez the list goes on.
I also learned at what age kids start to feel um, emotions about one another just by watching the kids I was with. I never engaged in anything like that with them, but it was right in front of my face so again, I was years ahead of everyone else with my knowledge of what goes on in teenage years.
I also learned how to throw a football, play kickball, and how to try to fling a Frissbee® straight. I wasn’t very good at it. Although these days my quarterback skills are a bit admirable. Ha!
Here’s the Part Where I Meet Diane
Before I was born, Mom and Dad lived in San Mateo, California. My brother, Bill, was a stellar baseball player and when he started on a team in that town; my dad and a guy named Jim Roby were his coaches. Mom and Dad became fast friends with Jim. (In fact, I always questioned if maybe he was my real dad. I do look a lot like him.... a blog for another time, I promise.)
Jim was married to someone at the time. Then after I was born, he divorced her and married a woman named Virginia. I remember her well. She and my Mom were very good friends. That marriage didn’t last long. It didn’t seem like Jim was compatible with these women. I think he felt too young to be with someone his age. Enter: Diane.
I don’t remember what year it was (Diane is probably saying it out loud as she is reading this), but Jim and Diane got married while I was in my teens. By that time, Mom and I lived in Sacramento and they lived in what we Californians call “East Bay”, named that simply because it’s east of the San Francisco Bay. In particular, they lived in San Ramon to my recollection. I’m sure they lived in a few other places before that, but in my mind, that is where I have them living.
Jim was as old as my mom. That puts them in their 40s, I was around 16. Diane was 20 years his junior. So here. Let’s do the math. I am 16. Diane is 10 years older than I am, so she is 26. That makes Jim 46. And that would make my mom 49. (These numbers are rough. I am probably not accurate, but I’m trying to remember as best as I can.) If you are wondering why I have left out my dad’s age—he passed away when I was 12.
Because of my history of having older friends, I took to Diane immediately. She had a big smile and laughed all the time. She was super refreshing at that time of my life. Mom loved her and Jim was super happy. I felt like we were best friends when we would see each other.
I don’t know how long Jim and Diane were married (again she is probably saying it out loud), but one morning, she got out of bed to wash her face and when she walked back into the bedroom, Jim was in cardiac arrest. At the age of 53, we lost Jim Roby. A sad day indeed. He was a fun man who had the spirit of a teenager.
Diane went on with her life and was single for quite a while as I recall. We would talk on occasion, and when we did, I began to notice a loss of spunk from her voice. Jim took that with him. It was a tone that eventually came back to her, but it was completely different from before.
Diane found it within herself to move on, and later found a great guy named Larry. They are still together and live comfortably down in Arizona. Their age difference? I have no idea, but I do know this, even though we haven’t seen each other in years, I know we would pick up right back to where we were 30 years ago. (I definitely would not meet with her unless she brought her amazing Biscotti, though! She has a small little business where she makes her grandma’s biscotti recipe.)
The Lesson. There’s Always a Lesson.
Lots of things change in our worlds, and our girlfriends carry on with their own lives too. I grew a lot in my younger years because I was being taught by what I thought were the wise ones. Yes, many of them were wise, but ultimately my connection with them made me wiser too.
Diane, you are one of those people to me: the wiser one. I appreciate the memories that we shared and the friendship that has lasted decades. I’m sorry for the pain that Jim’s death left on your soul and I regret not being closer to you at the time. We all grow and we all learn, thank you for being one of my teachers.
To my other girlfriends, I love that you were with me today. See you next week.
Lisa A.K.A Loopie