Monday, April 30, 2012

Not-so-near but Still Dear to My Heart!

     by Kimberly MacCarron

This topic rocks my socks for so many reasons since I firmly believe that boys and girls can be the best of friends.  I’ve loved the different points of views already shared on this blog.  Everyone has life experiences that color their perceptions, their memories and their future relationships.  My experiences with boys always seemed positive when it came to being friends.

     Girlfriends are great for reading between the lines and trying to figure out what somebody is really saying.  Or not saying.  The dramas are magnified and the feelings intensified.  Boys-who-are-friends want to help solve the problem and see things at face value.  Both are good, needed.

     When I was in high school, I had many friends of both sexes, and they were all valuable and special to me.  Two of my best friends were Billy Samuels and John Tomlanovich.  I’ve known them since seventh grade when we all started attending a new Christian school, and our friendship grew throughout those years.

     My step-dad was an alcoholic who quit drinking when I was five, but somehow—for whatever reason—he began drinking again while I was in high school.  I mention this because a bunch of my friends would often go up to our campground near Seven Springs to hang out for a fun-filled weekend of swimming and hanging around the fire ring in the evenings.  There were many times my step-father would get drunk, stumble around and start telling these friends all about his crappy childhood in great detail.
     I was mortified.  All the time.  As only a teenage girl can be. 

     My nervous girlfriends and I would escape and find other things to do, but these two friends-who-were-boys stayed and listened to the drunken ramblings.  Did they stay because they were interested?  No.  They stayed because they cared about me.  And to pull my step-dad back many times before he fell into the campfire.

     A dozen years or so later, Billy and John arrived for my wedding with their own families.  Billy was the minister who married my husband and me.  After a beautiful service and during the reception, I noticed that my step-dad started drinking even after I begged him not to.  It was the only stressful part of that special day.  But, apparently I had worried for naught since he remained quiet and didn’t make any scenes. 

     Or so I thought.

     At the end of the evening, my husband and I said goodnight to most of our two hundred guests.  It was at this point that I heard some slurred loud comments coming from the front where people were parked.  Billy and John were with my step-dad, keeping him somewhat hidden from the guests.
     It wasn’t until later when I realized that they had been gone from the reception for quite a while.  And it made me love them the same as I did in high school.  For handling a situation I was completely unaware of.  For allowing me to enjoy my wedding without knowing that they were taking care of my drunken step-dad…one last time.  They sat with him for hours, listening to the same stories they’d heard more than a thousand times during our high school years so that he wouldn’t talk to the other wedding guests. 

     That’s why I love boys-who-are-friends.  My girlfriends were great for helping me fix my hair and giggling with me while pinning my torn wedding gown from jumping in a moonbounce (that’s another story), but it was the boys who solved the behind-the-scenes problem.  Again.
     I’m not sure I ever thanked them sufficiently for allowing me those blissful hours of being unaware of such an embarrassing situation on my wedding day. 

     I’m not regularly in touch with either of them anymore, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I called them today, they would be there for me in any way I needed.  And I hope they know I would do the same.  I thank them for all the years they kindly listened to my grandfather talk about his old football days.  For driving me around when they had cars and I didn’t.  For Billy buying me those cream-filled oatmeal sandwiches at lunch just about every day.  For John taking me to see Heart in concert.  I think of them often, and although our lives have gone in different directions, they remain such a significant part of my life that I just wanted to say thanks.  Wherever they are. 

     So, when people ask if boys can be friends, I say yes.  They can be the best!

     My girlfriends have had their own special places in my life, but these two friends from years ago will forever have a hold on my heart for all they’ve been to me.  I’ve never made better friends again.  My memories remain strong, and that hasn’t changed... even through the years.  Or across the miles separating us.  And certainly not by the idea that boys and girls can never be “just friends.” 

Kimberly MacCarron


Melissa Landers said...

OMG, Kim. That story brought tears to my eyes. I'm serious. I'm sitting here, blinking furiously. What amazing friends you've had. Thanks for sharing that!

Kimberly said...

Thanks, Melissa! I still have tears in my eyes for writing it. LOL. But, yes, I was super blessed to have them in my life.

Kerri Carpenter said...

I loved reading this story! I hope that Billy and John get to read this someday as well. Sometimes people don't even realize that taking that extra step can truly mean so much to a person.

Recently, I learned of a friend who went above and beyond for me. A young relative had unexpectedly died and besides dealing with all of my emotions, I had to figure out how to get to the funeral a couple states away. I found out that my friend was working behind the scenes, trying to rearrange her own life to help me and even just the thought of that makes me so incredibly happy, touched and moved.

So thank you for this post today and the chance to remember my own great friends!

Pintip said...

What an amazing post. Thank you so much for sharing that story with us. What wonderful friends you have. But I think the reason you have such people in your life is because you, too, are a wonderful friend. Thank you.

Lorie Langdon said...

This made me cry. Thank you for sharing something so personal with us. I'm glad to be proved wrong in my belief that boys and girls can't be friends without complications.
It sounds like these boys were a true blessing in your life!

Kimberly said...

Thanks so much for stopping by! It truly is the baby steps that we take in life that lead us on the road to true and good friendships. Sometimes we have the huge, giant strides that we need someone to take in special instances (like my wedding day), but truly it's the little things that matter, too.
You're making me tear up about the funeral. I didn't ACTUALLY go with you. :-) I just really wanted to. I sincerely hope people just stay in the land of the living in your family for a very long time. No more deaths allowed! :-)
And we should remember our friends every single day. Because they are what get us through the tough times. Thanks for helping me though some of mine.

Kimberly said...

Thanks for stopping by! Sometimes I'm not the best friend that people need at the time, but I hope and pray every day that I CAN be. Thanks for saying that, though. :-)
Every day we should strive to be sensitive and kind to our friends, realizing that everyone's journey in life is different, with different experiences and feelings and insecurities playing a big part. As long as we can try to walk a mile in their stilettos or combat boots, then we can understand.
Thanks so much for stopping by!

Kimberly said...

They truly are one of my biggest blessings in the friendship area. But, I've made a lot of great friends in my YA and other writing circles, too.
Thanks for being in my circle! :-)

Susan said...

Tha is a beautiful story. And yes, boys can be friends. I've been privileged to keep old friends of both persuasions as well.

Kimberly said...

Thanks for agreeing with me. :-) I sometimes felt like I was on the wrong side of this particular argument, but I always knew I was right.
Because I'm seriously always right! LOL

Unknown said...

What a great story!these kinds of friends you wrote about are few a far between! But knowing they were there for you--when you didn't expect it, that's what it is all about! :)

Some of my best friends were guys. I could talk with them easier than some of my girl friends because they taught me how to 'move on' from issues--instead of letting them fester. (If that makes sense.)

Hugs to you-- (and your guy friends).

Kimberly said...

It absolutely makes sense, Loni! That's indeed one of the reasons I've always loved my friendships with guys. They don't let you obsess about the little things. And most of the time the things we stress over are the little things.

Lea Nolan said...

Wow, Kim this is such a beautiful (and horrifying) post. Thanks so much for being brave enough to share it. And I can see why those guys-who-were-friends were so important to you. They are good people with kind hearts who clearly cared for you. You were lucky, indeed :)

Diana Belchase said...

Kim, what a beautiful post! It had tears welling up in my eyes, because I, too, have had amazing friendships with guys.

When I went to Penn, there were literally about five guys for every girl on campus -- if I didn't make friends with them, I'd have seriously missed out on a lot. Without a doubt these guys are still some of the best friends I've ever had -- or ever will have. Even when one joined the Navy -- and we couldn't see each other for years, I knew, our relationship would pick up in exactly the same place as when we'd last seen each other. I was right, too.

Very often friendships with women can require a lot of work. If you don't keep in touch, you're out. Guys aren't like that. I have male friends in a host of other states, and even in the Ukraine, and I know I can trust them, they never gossip or tell my secrets, and I love every one of them like brothers.

So, yes, you can be friends with guys. Thanks for such a great post.

Avery Flynn said...

I think those two go beyond the girl friends or boy friends category and jump right into the true friends category. So glad you have them, girlie.

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Kim, once again you've made me cry with another moving blog post. :) What special, thoughtful guy (and girl) friends you have. I agree with Pintip's sentiments -- these special people are in your life because you are equally special and thoughtful!

Dana Rodgers said...

Thanks for being brave enough to share this post Kim. I have been fortunate to have a lot of great friends in my life and, even today, many of them are guys.

I always loved that two men could have a disagreement, have it out, then, 2 hours later be laughing and joking about it. On the other hand women are generally more in touch with their emotions and may be better at offering free psychoanalysis during the difficult times of your life, and hands down women are better for a girls day out getting manicures and such... But women are also more likely to hold a grudge--a woman might go to her 20 year high school reunion and be like, "I hate her! That hussy said I had ugly shoes in the 10th grade!" LOL!

I agree, men and women can most definitely develop deep meaningful friendships without being involved on an intimate level, but what I look for in anyone is true friendship. It sounds like you have that with your guy friends and that is a special gift that should always be celebrated. :-)

Kimberly said...

Yes, I was indeed very blessed to have them in my life.

Loved your comment about the gossip. I agree. Very rarely do you find a guy who's willing to gossip about something trivial. And if they want to say something, they put it right out there in the open. No need to hide the fact. LOL.

You're exactly right. There doesn't necessarily need to be categories of boy and girl friends. True friends are all you need.

Kimberly said...

Thanks! You make me want to cry with your nice comments all the time. :-) You make it so darn easy to count you as one of my besties.

Kimberly said...

Thanks! You make me want to cry with your nice comments all the time. :-) You make it so darn easy to count you as one of my besties.

Kimberly said...

You cracked me up with the comment about the grudge, ugly shoes and hussies. It's so, so true! Guys can have a fist fight and then end up at a bar later to pound down some beers. Or vice versa. LOL.
Women can remember stuff that happened in very clear detail a decade earlier. I can guarantee you that there are women with Alzheimer's who can provide you with five names of women who slighted them throughout the years. LOL. It's sad but true.

PJ Sharon said...

This brought tears to my eyes, Kim. You never forget those kind of heroic deeds done by guys who have no idea how much their help is appreciated. You were so lucky to have them!

Jennifer McAndrews said...

Kim what a sad and wonderful story. How lucky you are to have such good friends - yet I'm not surprised. You have a knack for making people care for you, something about how honest and gracious you are, I think *s*. Thanks for giving me a glimpse of boys and girls as true friends.

Kimberly said...

The best kind of heroes are the ones that don't realize that they are.

You are too kind. Right back at you! You've been a wonderful friend to me...allowing me to vent and wallow when I need to. :-) Thanks!

Billy Samuels said...

Thank you Kim for the beautiful made me cry, but in a good, nostalgic way. You are one of the most influential women in my life. Your wit and determination have always inspired me! I love you still...

Kimberly said...

I'm so glad you stopped by. You're making me cry now! LOL.
You've always inspired me as well! I'll never forget the short story you wrote in junior high about the man without his glasses, the candy wrapper and the empty swimming pool. You should have written the great American novel by now! :-)