Jessica Salas - Jessica and I met when we were in first grade. She is the first friend I remember calling my house. As it turned out we both lived in the small town of Sunfield and were only a few minutes walk from one another. We spent much of our time together. Our friendship was not exclusive. Throughout our time as best friends we also welcomed Sunrae and Stacie. Jessica and I were the best of friends until we changed schools and moved from elementary to junior high. (As a side note our little group of friends was very unique. We were quite the UN. The ethnicities in our group were half Mexican, half Korean, half Black and Me.) We met up one time during college after she found my email address at MSU. I haven't seen or talked to her since then.
Jessica Elenbaas - Beginning 7th grade was very difficult for me. I was 13 and a heart-broken, crazy teen that missed the little school in the little town and it seemed that everything was changing. Leaving Sunfield Elementary meant being bused to the Woodland Junior High were four elementary schools entwinted to create the junior high. During my second hour Literature class with Ms. Ruder my class was seated alphabetically. A girl with curly hair and a sunflower on her shirt walked into class late with a note for the teacher. She took the seat directly across the isle from me. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that same girl was in 5 of my 7 classes. During math class, directly after lunch, I decided I would wait until roll call to try and figure out what her name was. When the teacher called her name I quickly wrote it in my planner. Spelling has never been my strong suit so imagine how badly I butchered the last name Elenbaas. We began talking to one another a bit during some of our classes and by the third day of school we already had a graded assignment in our literature class. As we exchanged papers she said to me, "If it is wrong just mark it right." A friendship was born.
Over the next couple of years we had our parents truck us back and forth for overnights, attending high school sporting events and birthday parties. Eventually we had our drivers' license and cars. We spent a lot of time driving back and forth between our houses, to the mall, out to dinner, etc. Jessica and I did all of the things that best friends do. Our senor year had just begun. We had so many things to look forward to, senior pictures, graduating, applying for college. After work one evening I went to talk to my grandma and discovered that she had died in her recliner while watching her recorded soap operas. Jessica was there for me. I called her and she drove right over. As the year progressed all things "senior year" were placed in motion. I suppose we had always expected to go the same route and go to college together. I however, applied for an out-of-state school and Jessica had a boyfriend. Though I did not end up at the out-0f-state school we chose different paths. I left for Michigan State University without a best friend. Though we kept in touch during college and we still have contact.
Lauren Fredline - I was lucky enough to move into church owned apartments across the street from MSU. I was assigned three roommates. The four of us made plans to meet together before we moved into the apartment. I sent out letters, lists and conducted the meeting. After meeting my roommates I thought I had it all figured out. Sharon was a love-obsessed teen that I thought would "just be around." Erin seemed to be a great friend and we thought we had a lot in common. Lauren seemed to be some sort of a ghetto chick that I didn't think I would care for at all. First impressions were completely false. Sharon wasn't "just around," Sharon and her practically live-in boyfriend were ALWAYS around. Erin was a freak. Lauren became my best friend.
We spent a lot of time together and attended a lot of the social college things together. Lauren started out with a boyfriend and quickly got rid of him, which meant lots of time for us. The first few months we spent time getting to know one another. In January 2001 Lauren came home from a day with her parents' house and announced that she was going to join Weight Watchers with her mom for the new year. I laughed at first; after all, everyone knows that diets do not work. Well, I began to see her determination and success and decided I would join in for the fun. By October we had both surpassed our goals and expectations and continued on the track. We were boy crazy and both worked continued to work hard to lose weight and improve ourselves spiritually. Throughout the next year we both looked great. She lost 80 pounds and I had lost somewhere around 50 and we were much more spiritually minded. We had made the transformation together. I met Ryan and Lauren prepared to serve a mission for our church.
Lauren and I are still good friends and always acknowledge the amount of change we did to better ourselves. We only lived an hour apart for two years and only saw each other a few times during that period. She and her husband have recently moved to Nashville. We are still in contact and both treasure our friendship.
Megan VanDyke - We met shortly after we moved to Venice, Florida. While Ryan attended law school my only contact was with members of our church. As it turned out, Megan was one of the only people in our ward close to my age. Good luck for me we hit it off. We spent a lot of time together. I often joke with her about what she ever did in Venice without me! Though she grew up there and had friends other than those we attended church with. One of my favorite memories of Venice was a birthday I had while I was there. Ryan was very busy with law school. We lived an hour south of his law school which meant a lot of traveling. During at least one semester he had a night class. As it turns out, he had a night class on my birthday. I expected to be home alone that night and Ryan had even bought me DVDs as part of my gift because he knew I going to be home alone. It was in the evening and I heard a knock on the door. As I looked out the peephole I saw a cake. I opened the door to find Megan standing there with a cake she purchased from Publix and she was skipping her class for the evening. So we watched movies and ate way too much cake. It was a great birthday. Megan and I are still in contact though most of it happens to be texting. She also tells me she reads the blog but you wouldn't know because she never posts any comments!
Jeanae Davidson - After our time was over in Venice we made the requisite move to Miami. Again the only association I had when moving to Miami was that of church members. Our first Sunday in our new ward Jeanae came up to us hoping that either of us had musical talent (preferably a piano player) so that she could give up her position as ward pianist. Despite my lack of nay sort of musical talent she still invited our family over for dinner that same evening. We became fast friends. Nathan and her youngest son are only a couple of weeks apart in age. As we had play date after play date we realized all of our similarities. Jeanae is the singular reason I ever survived the Miami experience! Her husband works for the government and they move quite frequently. They left Miami very shortly after we did. While he served in Pakistan she and her children were in Arizona. They were in Washington DC for a short while and now they are living in Macedonia . I love reading her blog.
So it is natural that when we moved to Asheville I hoped and expected to find someone to call a best friend. It did not come as easily as it had during the rest of my life. It was hard. There were constantly people moving in and out of our ward. As time went on I discovered that a group of us formed something I had not previously experienced before - a large group friendship. Lucky for us all of our husbands also seem to get along really well too. As life happens half of our group of friends have been moving away. I still have a couple of good friends here and Christi Tucker and I are becoming very close friends. We are good friends for each other. As we strive to be good moms we encourage one another to do the same. We both enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. Christi has got me to do things I never expected to do like grinding my own wheat to bake all of our bread and going to farms to pick fruit. I have encouraged her to start couponing. We also enjoy taking our kids swimming and to the summer dollar movies. Individually we are both making progress in the exercise world. And who knows, maybe we will have a garden together next year...
Perhaps it is silly to some to have had so many best friends. Yet, I think that each of these friendships were developed with special people that were in my life during these different times. I believe that I was considered to be the best friend in the other's eye as well. As life moves on so do the people. I expect that each of these friends have found others that they have called best friends. I am grateful for the continuing of friendships and for the blessings they have each been in my life. I have made many other great friends along the way and I am grateful or all of you. Family is the center of my life; yet, friends provide my sanity. I hope each of you have experienced many of your own best friends!