Keeping It Real

A New Decade – Part Three

It is officially 2020. Y2K was 20 years ago, and the 90s started 30 years ago. People are reflecting on the last decade and I am one of those people. I’ve already looked back on how my career and my love life has evolved in the last 10 years. This next installment will be about my friendships, finishing up with the last installment later – part 4 will focus on running.

Golden Friends

These are the friends who have been in my life for longer than just the last decade. Friendships that started in elementary, middle or high school. These friends remember what I was like growing up, and we have grown together – even if we apart in distance. A lot of these friendships aren’t as close as they once were. Many of us just stay in touch through social media or an occasional text or phone call, and we see each other every now and then. Unfortunately some of the friendships I had when I was young that I thought I would have my whole life haven’t lasted. There has been a lot of change in all of our lives: college, moving to different states or countries, marriages, kids, breakups, divorce. Most of the friendships that I have lost have just evolved and changed to the point of fading away, but some have ended because of more unfortunate circumstances. I understand all of them though – and for the friends that remain from long ago, I am grateful. For those I have lost, I am mournful but also grateful. Each friendship has taught me so much.

Friends from College & Dietetic Internship

In college and my dietetic internship I formed many friendships. Just like those golden friendships, some have stayed strong and others have faded away. There are four particular friends that come to mind that remind me of this phase of my life: Michelle, Patty, Laurie and Jenn. I am so glad that I have remained close to them all of these years. Michelle and I met at CMU – we both were transfer students, a little bit older than many in our major, and had similar life paths. Although the distance between us has changed from going to school together, to Michelle moving to Virginia, to her moving back and us living only 20 minutes away from each other, to her moving to her hometown on the other side of the state… we have stayed close through it all. The other ladies were part of my “group” for my internship. We went through a lot together in those 10 months and they were my rock. We continue to support each other through social media and texts. I’ve been able to get together with Michelle once a year or so, and the ladies from my internship a little less often but it is always like it was just yesterday when we do get together.

Friends from the Internet

I know that heading sounds like it could be the title of a horror film, but I cannot write about the friends I’ve had in the last decade without talking about the ones I met online. As a millennial I have witnessed the shift in meeting people in person (whether it is friends or relationships) to meeting people online. Much of our lives are spent in small communities and the internet gives us access to the whole world, or at least it seems that way. We can connect with others who share our interests without having to go to a club meeting in town.

My online friendships start longer than a decade ago – in fact, more like 15+ years ago when I was active on LiveJournal. I met a few people through that avenue that I then connected with on Facebook. I was so incredibly blessed to have been able to meet two of them this year: Tiffany and Nicole. Tiffany lives in Virginia and I was able to meet her this year at the Yeungling Shamrock Half Marathon. We hung out for hours after the race. It wasn’t like we were just meeting for the first time, it was like we had been best friends for years, and when you think about it – I guess we have been. I met Nicole in September when she came to Michigan for a photography clinic. We both stepped out of our cars at her hotel and hugged like old friends seeing each other for the first time in forever, except we were meeting in person for the first time. We spent the day together with my friend Michelle from college, exploring the beauty of Michigan in the fall, talking, laughing, and having an amazing time.

I also met my friend Elizabeth this year. Her and I met through a post on Instagram about Nine Inch Nails and have bee friends on Facebook ever since. She lives in Indianapolis and met up with my friends and I for dinner after the Indy Monumental Marathon in November. Just like the other two, meeting her felt like seeing an old friend. We talked about music and our adventures (mine with running and hers with travel). It was absolutely incredible.

There was also a huge group of people that I met through an online running group. Some of them live local to me and I see them all the time, others I see at bigger races in the state or even in other states! Running together definitely makes people close quickly – there is something therapeutic about spilling your guts during a race or a long run. There is one friend in particular that I have to tell you about in greater detail, and that is my best friend Paula.

Paula was actually one of the creators of the group. Her and I didn’t connect right away, but when we did, it was instant friendship. We started off by being accountability buddies for each other and then ended up sharing so much. We talked every single day through messages. We hung out when we could, mostly through running events. Unfortunately our friendship had a bit of a hiccup – a 5 month period of me ghosting her, to be specific. I’m not going to get into details of why that happened or how difficult it was for both of us. I wish it hadn’t happened but we both realize how that it was necessary for us to have the friendship that we have today.

We reconnected at the beginning of 2018 and haven’t looked back since. We are back to talking almost every single day. We visit each other as often as we can. We still run races together, but sometimes we get together just to watch movies, play video games, or enjoy a meal together. Although things with the online group did not work out I am so grateful for it giving me such wonderful friends.

Work Friends

I have been lucky to have worked with some awesome people in this last decade. When I moved to Saginaw, I was hesitant to become close to the people I worked with. For a lot of reasons – I had negative experiences from my past and I didn’t feel like I fit in as the “new girl”. In the job I have now, though, it is a different story. Although I don’t hang out with my coworkers outside of work very often, we are very close to one another at work. It feels like a family. And I am so grateful for it. Lisa – the director of the program I work in – in particular is one of my closest friends. We call each other “wifey” and we share so much with each other. We make each other laugh until we cry sometimes! I love my job for a whole lot of reasons, but Lisa is definitely one of the biggest reasons.

I also made some friends at my first job in Saginaw that have stayed friends with me since – Maggie, Charlie and Ali. We all spent a lot of time working together as we were all in management type positions there. We have all moved on to different things but still remain connected. Those three saw me through some of the most difficult things in my life and it made us closer. I am so grateful for them.

My Running Group

Last, but definitely not least, is my local running group. I joined the Facebook version in 2015 but was scared to go to a group run. I finally took the leap and went to a group run in March 2016 where I met Staci. She did run/walk intervals like me and we became instant friends on the 8 mile run we did together. By the end she was offering to run the half marathon I was training for with me, if I wanted someone to run with. I gladly accepted her offer and we did run that race together. There are so many fun memories from that race, and many other races we have done together over the years, but the most memorable has to be running our first marathon together. She was signed up for Detroit when we ran the half together in April 2016 and asked me if I wanted to do it with her. I laughed and laughed – was she nuts? Next thing I knew, I was standing in the corral with her at Detroit, about to embark on a 26.2 mile journey that would change my life forever.

Staci introduced me to many of the friends I am close to now through that group. Others I have met on group runs and connected with. Some I have met in other ways – through church or other Facebook groups or mutual friends. I can’t even begin to list off all of the wonderful people from my running group, but I will say this: I know that nearly every single one of them would be there for me in an instant for whatever I need. Many of them have listened to me cry, whine, complain, laugh, etc. We have of course enjoyed so many runs together, but also other adventures like concerts, movies, road trips, etc. I don’t know what I would do without them. I finally have a community here, and it is wonderful.

We need old friends to help us grow old and new friends to help keep us young.

As you can see, my friendships have changed a lot through the years. I have met some amazing people in this past decade that have changed my life. I am grateful for each and every person, even the ones that aren’t around anymore. Each friendship has taught me something new about myself and about the world. Here’s to another decade of friendship – and to old friends, and new friends, each with a very importance place in my life.

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