the summer before life changed

Thanks to a layover in St. Louis the other day, I was able to meet up with my best friend from middle school through college.  We had not seen each other in years but, as best friends can do, picked right up where we left off.  Our friendship had always been drama-free.  Just the two of us facing the world together no matter what.  I’m sure we annoyed others with our inside jokes and crazy schemes, but we never cared.

My flight was delayed, so we had a few hours together.  We grabbed dinner and sat discussing our lives.  Each of our oldest child, a son, is now the age we were as friends.  How did that happen?!!  Life has gone fast.  We discussed our families, people we grew up with, friends, major events.  So much joy and surprise and tragedy.  Just life, but a lot to take in at once.

My friend had ended up moving into the house she grew up in.  A house I spent many hours in and know well.  She told me that they had taken down the wallpaper in the family room and all of our writings were still there.  I immediately knew what she was talking about and was transported back to that day.  That summer…

That summer we were in high school.  Long days and nights stretched out in front of us full of endless possibilities.  We had jobs, typical teenage jobs that left us with a lot of free time, so we made the most of summer.

Nights were spent cruising around mall parking lots, pulling pranks, swimming in pools, hanging out at local parks, getting into minor trouble, and then ending up at someones house.  We stayed up late talking (probably about boys) and watching movies (probably Point Break or Can’t Buy Me Love or Say Anything) and listening and singing to music (probably New Kids on the Block or Richard Marx or INXS).

Days were spent working our summer jobs then heading back to my friend’s house to hang out.  We would swim some but St. Louis summers are hot and humid, so we would end up inside lying on her family room floor in the air conditioning.  My friend’s sister and her best friend would often join us.  We all would talk and listen to music and nap.  Lazy summer days at their best.  My friend’s mom would yell at us, but work and staying up until 3 in the morning wears you out!

One day, as we were all lying around, her mom told us that she was going to wallpaper the family room.  We asked if we could write on the walls first and, to our surprise, she said yes.  So we covered the walls with our names, “BFF”, inside joke quotes, and “I love ___ (names withheld to protect the innocent/ignorant).  It was so much fun; writing whatever we wanted on the walls, knowing that it would soon be hidden.  It’s a memory that is so easy to recall.  So fun, so innocent.

And the thing is, soon after that everything changed.  Tragedy struck in my best friend’s life and soon afterward I moved away.  Life got really hard.  We no longer had each other to get through life with.  Innocence was lost.

But, thinking back to that day, I’m so glad for the memory.  The freedom and endlessness of that summer.  The joy of hanging with good friends.  The hope that the boy you like will like you back.  The excitement when your favorite song came on the radio.  The ability to do nothing.  It was everything that teen years should be.

And although it didn’t last…couldn’t last…for that one moment in time we had it all.  For that I am forever grateful!


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