Friday, January 14, 2011

Flashback Friday: Old Friends

The girlies and the lovely bride
Thought I’d give Flashback Friday a whirl! This past Saturday, my girls were the flower girls in my childhood friend Maria’s wedding. Though these pictures are not a flashback, the story behind them certainly is. Maria and I have known each other for as long as I can remember, since we were about four years old. Before my parents divorced when I was 12, I spent about a month every summer with my Nana and Granddaddy in Orange Park. Nana and Granddaddy moved there from NAS Key West when Granddaddy got transferred to NAS Jacksonville (NAS is Navy lingo for Naval Air Station for those of you not familiar; this post includes a childhood picture of my mom on the base in Key West). Maria was a neighborhood kid. There we were…kids…summer…one month…with the freedom and safety kids had back then.

Maria and me
Maria lived across the street and two doors down from Nana and Granddaddy. Directly across the street from Nana and Granddaddy was Sheila. To the left of Sheila was Ricky. To the right was Ted. Two doors down from Ted was Marlynn. Next door to Nana and Granddaddy were the Gilleys, with six kids. Maria, Sheila, Ricky, Ted, Marlynn and I were all the exact same age, and the Gilley kids were all in our age range. I remember that gang and all our times together so clearly. We were the Capella Lane gang. We are all over that neighborhood on our bikes. There used to be a swimming hole at the end of the road one street up, and we’d find our way back there pretty often. It’s funny…I’ve tried to find where that swimming hole was as I got older but I could never figure out how we got back there. Development got in the way.

The girls and their handsome Daddy
Maria, Ricky and I probably spent the most time together. I remember spending the night with Maria all the time. Either her older brother Joe or her dad, I can’t remember which, played the accordian, and he’d keep us up playing that thing. And her younger brother John used to drive us crazy, as younger brothers did. Her mom, Rose, was, and still is, one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever known. I spent some time with her at the reception catching up. Ricky was such a cutie, and like Miss Rose, his parents, Miss Judy and Mr Steve, considered me one of their own. I remember one particular bicycle crash…Ricky and the Gilley boys were encouraging me and Maria to ride down the big hill next to Maria’s house; they were at the bottom of the hill watching for cars, egging us on to build up as much speed as we could. I got near the bottom, flying, panicked, hit the brakes and seriously wiped out. Major crash…busted up knees and elbows…surprised to this day that I didn’t break anything. And did I go home to Nana’s? Heck no! Ricky dragged me to Miss Judy to fix me up. Nana was well accustomed to my clumsiness…which I also have to this day (as does my Olivia, but that’s a whole other seventeen stories).

When my parents split up, things happened very quickly. I was in school in St. Pete on Thursday; and then all the sudden I was in school in Orange Park on Monday, but I had a little help from the Man upstairs with my transition. I remember so clearly walking into that 7th grade classroom for the first time in the middle of the day. I immediately heard someone shout my name. It was Ricky. Maria was in the classroom next door. Talk about the grace of God… They were my anchors.

Maria and I lost contact with each other for a little while after high school and during her first marriage. Miss Rose and Nana stayed close neighbors though, so we were at least able to keep tabs on each other. We found each other again through Facebook, of course, and I was honored when she asked me if my girls could be in her wedding. I’m still in contact with Ricky and Marlynn, but we’ve lost track of the rest of them. My Nana’s gone now, and my uncle lives in her house. And every once in a while, I still go back to the old neighborhood to have Miss Jeannie cut my hair. She’s cut it since I was a kid! Even when I went away to college, I’d come back home for haircuts! Now she’s more of a sweet connection to my past than my regular stylist.

I think about that old gang and all the fun we had, and I feel a little sad that we don’t have that kind of neighborhood for my girls. We live on a busy street (essentially A-1-A), so riding bikes with a bunch of neighborhood kids is out of the question. It’s play dates on the weekend for the girls instead. And I’m so thankful God blessed me with twins so that they have each other. Being a part of Maria’s big day reminded me how strong those early bonds can be if you continue to nourish them. I hope that forty years from now, my girls are still friends with some of their childhood friends.  Flashback Friday headquarters are over at Tia's blog.


Marisa Hopkins said...

Awww, what beautiful photos!!! And how lovely to have a lifelong friend like Maria. I have one, too. Her Godparents lived across the street from me, and though we are in other parts of the world now, and though years sometimes pass without us keeping in contact, we always manage to get back in touch and keep our friendship going. It's so nice to have a friend who has known you always!

Becca said...

What a sweet post Kelly. It's so wonderful to still have a friend from childhood isn't it? Lovely photos from the wedding and with your girls. Have a wonderful weekend my friend!

Christopher And Tia said...

I always get chills, when I read up on what my childhood friends are doing. The ones that I was REALLY close with, at least. The girls that lived across the street from me, mostly.

And when I read this, it gave me the same sort of chills. The chills of happy nostalgia.