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Not only do they know me…

Roughly one month ago, my best friend from the 5th grade, Johanna, called me and our other best friend from the 6th grade, Orly, with an ‘idea’.

“I think we should all meet on the Vineyard for the 4th of July weekend.”

Organizing families and schedules and getting to an island is a bit of a stretch across the board usually…except for this time. Within a day or two, every piece had fallen into place. And several weeks later, they showed up. Here. With me.

That was then, this is now

Over the last year, I have been lucky enough to welcome wonderful, brilliant, new friends into my life. These are people who are meeting me now and know this to be the me that I am: an adult, a mom, a writer, a business woman, (and now I will stop this list before I get into trouble).

You see, of late, it has been my contention that I have become more me, recently, than I have ever been. That I am inhabiting my skin, my heart and my brain more fully than I ever have before. And therefore, I assumed that I was so copacetic with these new friends as a result of my newly hatchedness. That we connected so deeply because I was finally and deeply me.

And then Johanna and Orly arrived.

And there I was being the self I’m so happy being now…and there they were not noticing anything different. Being with them was and is like chewing—something I don’t have to think about. It just happens, my body knows inherently how.

Not only do these two women know me, but they also love me. And have, even when years have gone by without much communication, even when life was happening, for 27 years. Their love, it seems, is for something that is just intrinsically, undeniably, Julie.

At one point during the weekend, Johanna told me, when I put on one dress in particular that “it looked better on the hanger”—true friends do not mince words. So, I asked her point blank if I was different or the same—then versus now—and she said, “Well, you were always really smart and a brilliant writer and strong-willed and, well, wild—but I will say that you’re funnier now.” (I’m wilder now too, but that’s an entirely different blog post. Nah, that’s an entirely different blog altogether.)

Which was when I realized that me being me now is really just me being an enhanced version of who I always was—before I wasn’t a kid anymore. You know, when I was 10.

It is soul-quenching to be with people that have known and loved me for this long. It is life-quenching to realize that I wasn’t so off the mark way back when. It is road-quenching to know that even though there was a big chunk of years when I floundered, off the map—the markers were there all along, that I was tied to them indelibly as if with invisible ink that just needed those weird, white magic markers to make the ties visible.

And that, without really trying—just sniffing my way—I somehow, deliciously, made it back. Plus 27.

Image credit: Kevin Dooley (I couldn’t help it. I typed in ‘old friends’ and this image popped up amongst some random and boring pictures of, well, old friends. May we all still be friends when we are this old. And may our bosoms never, ever look like this.)

Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • Alisa Bowman says:

    Love the photo. I’ve been thinking along the same lines. I think we are always ourselves. Just, as we get older, we become ourselves more loudly.

    • Julie Roads says:

      Yes. And thanks for being one of the most special people that I currently get to be really, really, really loud with. xox

  • I think you hit it spot on when you said about being the you “before I wasn’t a kid anymore” because that’s what I was thinking about and then you said it in a way my brain hadn’t quite got to yet. It feels like as teens, we’re these tormented people who try to be who it is we think we’re meant to be. And then, at some point (sooner rather than later if we’re very fortunate) we realise that just being our true selves is best.

    I was always a bit weird in school and remember as a pre-teen, loving this difference, revelling in it almost. And then as a teenager, it didn’t die, but it was definitely squashed. Then I turned 30 and it was the best feeling in the world. I felt like finally I was free to just be me. Love me or loathe me (but still having to recognise that yes please, I’d prefer the former!) this is who I am.

    Thanks Julie. This post feels like a celebration :)

  • Sandi says:

    I also recently reconnected with my oldest friends after a 20 year break! At first I wondered, why are we planning this, why bother, etc. But after the first 5 minutes of awkwardness, we remembered what we’d always loved about each other growing up. It was amazing, and I laughed more that evening than I had in a long time. For me it was about remembering the me that I’d been (the joy of it) and owning who I’d become.

    Will we see each other again? I hope so; even if it’s every few years, that soul-quenching time was worth the wait.

    Thanks for the memories,

  • Edgy Mama says:

    I have a few friends like this–and you’re right–it’s like chewing gum to be with them. Relaxing and easy and comfortable.

    Glad to be one of the new friends who gets to be around the “more” you!

  • ryan says:

    I have a set of friends like Johanna and Orly. We meet annually. Before the poverty of parenting and our shared “relocating for work” addictions set in, we’d go fishing (I mean drinking) in Canada.

    Everyone has now returned to our boyhood region except for me. Funny how those one or two evenings a year can ground you for a good six month spell. Thanks for the story.

  • Andi says:

    I love this post! I think we are born with certain characteristics that cannot easily be changed. As we go through life we refine them, bring out the best and essential goodness of those and constantly experiment to make “it” better.

  • Lindsey says:

    I adore these friends. I am lucky to have a few and I know just the feeling you mean.
    Also, my mother had those racing women with walkers. Highly entertaining watching my babies play with them!

  • Andi says:

    Cheers to amazing friends that fill our hearts with joy!!!

  • As Picasso said, “It takes one a long time to become young.” What a joy to realize that your journey has led you to being more of who you always were. I feel the same, especially in the last year.

    Last fall, I ran into one of my dearest grade school friends in the supermarket in my hometown. We had lost touch, but in an instant, by the oven roasted chickens, it was as it had always been. Then this weekend, I pulled out our wedding video, and it cued immediately to my best friend from 1st grade saying I hadn’t changed a bit… and reminding me of the best parts of myself that have always been “me”. This stuff is priceless. That and friends who will tell you in a heartbeat when something looked better on the hanger. I’m a little jealous of your reunion. Wonder if I can get them to come here.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Just catching up and reading all of your incredible comments and stories! LOVE that this has struck a chord!

  • Oh Julie that’s a beautiful story! Thank you! My friend Marie calls friends “family of choice”. So true…it’s sometimes easier to be with a true friend that you haven’t seen in decades than with members of your own family.

    In Anam Cara the poet John O’Donohue says “friendship is always an act of recognition…in the moment of friendship two souls suddenly recognize each other….suddenly there is the flash of recognition and the embers of kinship glow”. Miles and years cannot extinguish those embers. So beautiful!

  • Johanna says:

    Hi. My dad just told me to read your blog – apparently he heard about it from your dad. I’m “misty”. :) It was an extraordinary weekend . . . and you ARE the best version of you!! Just think of how “us” we will be when our boobs look like that picture! Love you.

  • Van says:

    I love this post!

    After the uninspired creative desolation of high school and early college I was creatively drained. When the creativity, morals, ideas, and goals from my “before I wasn’t a kid anymore” times I’ve soared. I’m doing what I was taught was “impossible” to make a living doing (writing) I’m developing & supporting our city’s art community, marketing a community garden, and inspiring dozens daily on my blog. It’s so liberating and rewarding to go back to being your “true” and “natural” self.

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