The first day of school my Junior year, was one of the worst days of my life. I was starting a new school in the middle of high school. As I stood outside of the school, looking at groups of friends huddled together, I desperately missed my friends. My mind played tricks on me. I kept thinking I could hear the voices of my friends, but I was surrounded by strangers.
The first day was just for orientation. As most of the students coming to the orientation were sophomores & I was a junior, I sat quietly by myself during most of my classes that day. I ate lunch alone. I cried myself to sleep that night, wishing that I could wake up in my old house, in my old neighborhood, where I knew people & they knew me.
Colleen was one of the first people to reach out to me. "Is someone sitting here," she asked me of the seat behind me. I was so surprised that someone was talking to me, I didn't mind that Colleen was actually trying to escape from someone else. There were others who reached out too (Oh, Em, when you see someone new at school, please be the one to reach out), & soon I wasn't eating lunch alone. That year I got to eat lunch with two girls who would become my best friends, Col & Ali.
The three of us were soon inseparable, although we were so different in so many ways. I was the cheerleader, while Ali & Col played more traditional sports (or at least what people would traditionally consider as sports). Col & I came from large families, & Ali's was smaller. I spent my life living all over the country, but New Jersey had always been home to Col & Ali. Col & I were juniors, & Ali was a sophomore.
While even our personalities vasty differed, there were a number of commonalities that bound us in friendship. We were involved, we worked really hard, & we had really big dreams. We were also very emotional teenage girls, often crying to each other on the phone for reasons I would only laugh at today. We called ourselves the Angels, but we were also dubbed the three musketeers. Texting didn't exist back then (I know, shocking, right?). In order to avoid getting caught passing notes, the three of us shared a notebook that we filled up with messages to each other (we thought we were so incredibly smart).
|Holly Ball 1998 (Also, see Prom)|
There were people who thought that I was following my best friend to her school of choice, but I loved URI for it's old architecture, school spirit (which may have just been a show during our visit), & the fact that New England will always feel like coming home to me. While Colleen & I were involved in different activities & majors, it was nice to have a dear friend to lean on during our first year of college.
We were lucky to live in the same building (but not the same room, we would have killed each other) our freshmen year. On the weekends, we woke up way earlier than traditional college students & watched cartoons as we waited for the dining hall to open for breakfast. There was a field that we'd walk to some nights. With no lights around us, stars filled the sky. We used to sit there & share our dreams & fears. We let each other vent. We talked about high school memories & how different everything felt outside of high school...how different we felt.
Colleen & I grew apart sometime during college. It wasn't that we didn't care about each other any more. It's just that I was a Communication Studies major & an RA. I was involved in Habitat for Humanity & other clubs. Colleen was an Engineering major & a diver on the swim team. We had two totally different groups of friends. Although we cared about each other & got together from time to time, it was hard to make time for each other.
I remember seeing Colleen for a brief moment as we walked in the procession on our graduation day. In the middle of thousands of people, we just happened to be in the same spot at the same time. We gave each other a quick hug & congratulated each other. It made my heart so happy & made graduation day feel complete to share that precious moment with my dear friend who once introduced me to URI.
I'm not sure how we found our way back to each other. I guess having cell phones & text messages & access to social media opened up the lines of communication again. It's funny how when we lived on the same campus, we grew apart. Since graduating, we've never lived in the same state, but Col has once again become one of my closest friends.
With Colleen, I feel like I can talk about anything. We keep each other grounded, while encouraging each other to be the best versions of ourselves. We can talk about our professional lives, our hopes for our lives at home, & laugh at ourselves all at the same time. We've celebrated so many victories (big & small) together & vented about what we like to call "middle class white girl problems." No matter where we are or what we're doing, we've shared so many fun moments.
Colleen stood by me on the day I married your Daddy (almost six years ago).
She was one of the first people I told when I found out I was pregnant with you. After you were born, Col & Ali came to visit when you were still a little squishy. Colleen was so excited that another strong girl was born & was honored to be your Aunt Colleen. I hope that she'll be your cool aunt, one you will listen to when you won't listen to me.
Instead of a high school notebook, Ali, Col, & I now have a long, on-going group text. It stretches the East Coast, & keeps us up to date about what is going on in each other's lives (We also use it when we're making difficult fashion choices). Living in different states, we can't be together all the time, but when we do get together, it's always an amazing time (like this time & this time). We've been together for birthdays.
We've had girls weekends.
And all the precious & fun moments in between.
Last month, we celebrated Colleen's bachelorette party. It was so much fun getting together to celebrate Colleen & the next big step she's taking in her life.
My friendships with Col & Ali are the oldest close friendships I've had...a little more than 17 years (Ali recently shared that with us, & Oh Em Gee did it make me feel old). I hope Col knows how much I love her, for being a strong woman in my life, for being adventurous, for having my back, for keeping me grounded, for encouraging me, for being supportive, & for laughing at me & with me. More than anything I will always love Colleen most for bringing me to URI on that very first trip, & opening me up to the possibility of Daddy & you. WIthout her I never would have experienced my very favorite role in life: being your Mommy.
I'm looking forward to sharing a lifetime of precious moments with Col, & being there for her as she has for me...& perhaps, getting to be an aunt someday to her kids as she has been to you.
I love you so,