Sunday, July 24, 2005

I Have Another Friend Named Laura…

I think I’ve mentioned before how popular the name Laura has been in my life. I have had a best friend named Laura in three aspects of my life: at my high school, at my church in St. Louis, and at ACU. Each has played a very important role in my life as a friend, and the influences continue in many ways. However, one, possibly the one I have ever gotten the absolute closest too, happens to be the one I’m probably the farthest from today. Let me explain…

The Laura I’m referring to I went to church with growing up. It’s actually kinda cool because she grew up at my home church in St. Louis (STL), but the year my family started going there was the year right after her and her family had moved from STL to none other than Dallas, Texas (the Plano area to be exact). I think it was about ten years after we started going to the church that Laura and her family ended up moving back to STL and were back at our church.

Laura is actually a little less than two years younger than me. She was two grades behind me in school (there was one grade between us…does that make sense). When exactly we became friends is actually a mystery to both of us…HA! That was always something we would joke about; we were never quite sure when and why we became friends, but we were, and we became incredibly close! We didn’t even attend the same school, matter of fact, we attended the rival high schools in our school district…which in a sense, probably brought us closer because we always gave each other “trouble” about one another’s school! HA! It was always a competition! We loved it!

So it was sometime in high school that we became friends…I’d guess maybe my sophomore year and her 8th grade year possibly, but it might have been the summer after those school years…I’m just not exactly sure. Whatever the case, I know we were pretty good friends my junior year.

Now let me give you an idea of how close we were. Well first there is the obvious in that we would always sit together at church and church functions and would normally get told we were going to be separated when we would sit together in Bible class because we would make jokes and talk during class and get everyone laughing and get in trouble (we had small classes since it was a small church…maybe like 8-10 people in our class)…HA! But we were got the closest though our talks with one another. Though we might only see one another three times a week (twice on Sundays and once on Wed. nights), we would literally talk on the phone almost EVERY since day, and if it wasn’t on the phone, it would be on the internet, though back then I wasn’t on the internet as much as I am nowadays, so we would normally talk via the phone. We could talk for hours! A short conversation would be 45 minutes! She is actually the friend I’ve talked the longest on the phone with and that was one day we were on the phone for 6 hours as we talked and watched the NBA playoff games on television together over the phone (we watched two games)! HA!

When you talk with a person as much as I did with Laura, you are bound to get very close, and that we were! She was the best friend I had! We looked out for one another and people knew it! HA! It happened that there was a guy at our church her age who she had always liked growing up. He apparently like her too, but they never really “got together” till later on in high school. Well, I’d never been a big fan of him growing up. I always thought him to be very immature (which was to be expected I suppose since he was two years younger than me) and I never thought he seemed to treat my best friend well. I’ll never forget the one night on the phone that I had to do one of the “best friend” speeches. That’s one of those talks that you start it off with, “I can only tell you this because we are best friends and I am it takes a best friend to be able to tell you this and for you to be able to respect it, but…” I told her that night on the phone that I honestly didn’t think that guy loved her as she did him. That night she obviously cried, but by the next day she thanked me for tell her, because she said she knew it to an extent, but it was one of those things you didn’t want to believe, so you refused to accept it until she heard it from someone else.

Well, even with that, they stayed together off and on…and I actually ended up addressing him myself on the matter. When it comes to my friends I do what I can, so I actually wrote this boy a 10 page hand-written letter (I’ve got a typed copy of it for myself and it is equivalent to a single-spaced, size 10 font, 2.5 page typed letter…HA!) a couple days before I left for college on August 14, 2000. I told this boy what I thought of him and what I thought of how he was treating my best friend in their “relationship.” I didn’t tell Laura I was going to do it, though I called her the night after I wrote it (before I gave it to him) and read it over the phone to her and it made her cry because she said it made her know how much I loved her that I’d do something like that. Here are just a few parts from the letter:

Yes, I get very annoyed with you and disagree with a LOT of the things you do, but neither of those give me a reason to hate you…Whether true or not, I’ve got the impression from several that, it’s not exactly that your afraid of me, but that you just seem intimidated by me…

(SIDENOTE: everything I’ve said so far is just things I myself, for my own benefits as well as for yours wanted to tell you. But now the things I’m going to say, I say on behalf of my best friend! Someone I love to death and will say to benefit her and hopefully you yourself. These are mainly the reasons why I’m pretty pissed (to say the least) lately towards you!)…

Now yeah, I could go for a while on what I think of cheating, but that is besides the fact. I believe that when you cheated it became evident that all you care/were thinking about was yourself in your “relationship!”…

So I had someone give him the letter the next Sunday, which I wasn’t there because I was leaving for Texas for school, and in the letter I included an envelope for him to write me a response back, to which he did. His response was 4.5 hand written pages. It was a very respectful letter in which he did a lot of apologizing. Some of his words I’ve included here:

I gotta say, great letter! I enjoyed reading it and I agree with everything, almost everything, you said.

I also am not afraid of you but I do on some lever respect you. I try not to get in fights or arguments I don’t at least have a chance at winning. And in all honesty I don’t have a chance against you. That’s probably because you see right through my bull shit. I also kind of respect you because you’re the single most confident person (whether its an act or not) I’ve ever met.

When I didn’t want Laura telling you stuff sometimes it was because you would explain to her it was bull shit and I also didn’t feel like taking your condescending little jokes that you tell right to people’s faces and it catches them so off guard they don’t know what to say back.

All the stuff I did to her was so God awful I’m ashamed of myself and it turns my stomach to think how badly I’ve played with her feelings.

So I think I reached the boy to some extent. That letter played a big role in Laura and I’s continuing friendship throughout that next year. We would mention it on several occasions. However, about the time of that letter our friendship was about to hit a HUGE obstacle to which our friendship would have to overcome in efforts to continue on. That was me moving over 800 miles away to attend college which would only allow me to return back to STL only about twice a school year.

I’ll admit, that summer before I went off to ACU for the first time, Laura was my life-saver! That summer, in trying to decide where to go to college, I went through a rough time, and Laura would listen to me on the phone night after night. I even remember breaking down talking to her on the phone one night, though I did my best to not let her know I was crying, but I’m sure she probably knew. Though she never came out and said it while I was trying to make my decision on where to go, she didn’t want me to go to ACU. We both knew how far it was and that we wouldn’t get to see one another that often.

So as history has it, I ended up going to ACU. That first year we did pretty good! We still talked frequently, whether it was on the phone eating up calling cards, or via AIM or email. Heck, she was the person I ran up the dorm stairs to call when I had tears in my eyes as my parents drove out of the parking lot leaving me for welcome week at ACU. We were still doing pretty good that following summer: 2001. I even have a 4.5 page hand-written letter she wrote me on June 25, 2001. She said things in it as:

I think you are probably the only person who really understands me. Half the time I usually don’t understand myself, but it seems you do. You know my strengths and weaknesses and accept them both. When I am down and discouraged you know it and do your best to cheer me up, which you always do! I don’t have a sister, and most people tell me I should be thankful for that, but if I could ever choose to have one, I’d want her to be just like you. But to me, you are my big sister, always taking care of me and always looking out for me.

I can never tell you how much I appreciate the 10 page letter you wrote to _____. It isn’tso much what it might have done for him, but what it did for me. It was the time I realized that you were my best friend. You were my best friend before you wrote the letter, but it was then that I knew how much you meant to me and vice versa. I knew that no one else in the entire world would have done anything like that for me. Overtime, you made me realize that I deserve better than ______.

You have told me things that you knew I wouldn’t want to hear and things that have hurt me, but they were things that I needed someone to tell me. And these things I could have only heard from you because I knew you only had my best interests at heart, like you always do. I trust you with everything I have and everything I am. There isn’t anything I can think of that I would ever have to keep from you.

This is very hard for me to admit, but you are also one of the smartest people I know (don’t go getting a big head!) You are very mature and sophisticated about things. You make me laugh when you try to analyze different situations and are so serious about it…it makes me proud to think that my best friend is so smart.

I would rather do something with you, than anybody else. I have the most fun with you and you have the best sense of humor. I can always be myself with you and I don’t really feel that way about anyone else. I am most comfortable when I’m around youl.

When the phone rings and it is for me, I hope it is you more than anyone.

I have always had a hard time truly being happy for people. When you went off to school I was very upset and kind of mad at you.

You are my best friend, and I know that you are always with me, even if you are so far away. I think that you have made me a better person than who I was before we became friends. I believe that every person that you come in contact with, you make their life brighter, like you have with mine. God sends everyone an angel here on earth, and I know that He sent you to be mine.
Love always,

So there’s that. Yes, that summer I felt like we were back as we were before I’d even left for school that year, but things would change the next year. I got busy with new friends at school, and I was pledging. She was in the midst of her senior year of high school. A busy time, as well as working a lot of nights and weekends. We didn’t talk as much that year.

So that next summer I found myself back in STL and things were definitely different between Laura and I. I went to her high school graduation because I wanted too, she had been a best friend to me and I wanted to honor her in an important time in her life! However, she didn’t really speak much to me after it and all, but I was glad I went and sat with her family.

That summer I found myself between July 26th and August 7th writing her an email EVERY night. I would email her sometimes only a couple sentences just saying hey and asking how she was. Telling her I missed her and stuff like that, all just to let her know I still cared, but I only got two emails back from all those, and one was actually a negative one where she basically just yelled at me for liking our preacher, because she didn’t like him. I even wrote at the bottom of EACH of those emails a quote from a song that I thought explained how I felt about being confused on our friendship and how I missed the old times when we talked and stuff.

I ended up going back to school that summer still not sure of what had happened to our friendship. Had we just grown that far apart? Was the less frequent phone conversations causing our friendship to deteriorate? Was she really that upset at me for going so far away for school? I just wasn’t sure, and she wouldn’t tell me in response to my emails and askings….
So the next years for school our correspondence grew less and less. I’d call her for her birthday each year still and when I was in STL for Christmas vacation, I’d go up to her after church when I’d see her there and say “hey” or something.

So this brings me to now. It was in maybe March or so this year that out of the clear blue I got an instant message from her. She said, “I wanted to tell you I’m engaged!” She and the boy from our church that she’d grown up with and dated for several years were now engaged. I told her congrats and was happy for her in that she seemed very happy with the situation.

It was in May that she called and left a message on my cell phone requesting my mailing address for a wedding invitation. When I called her back we chatted for about 20 minutes or so…it was good. And I actually called her back a couple more times that week and we chatted for about 10 minutes each time. But I’ve called her two or three more times since then and only gotten her answering machine, too which I left a message each time, and haven’t heard back from her. Though Friday afternoon I caught her as she was going out the door to work and she said she’d call me next week, since she had to work all weekend, but I didn’t get a call all that week (which was two weeks ago).

So here I sit. I ordered her her wedding gift online today and I plan to make the drive to STL in two weekends for her wedding. It’s weird, I’ll admit. We are basically on the level of acquaintances nowadays it seems, however I’m going to make a 800+ mile drive (for the second weekend in a row, might I add) to attend her wedding. I don’t know what it will be like being at the wedding, seeing her and this guy from my our church who I never approved of growing up uniting. I can’t say he hasn’t changed, as I’m sure he has, as we all do, and as Laura and I obviously have. They are apparently happy, for which I’m happy for them as well. But to this day I still wish I had my best friend Laura. I would give anything to know if it was just distance that caused us to grow apart or if there was more to the story that I never knew.

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