In middle school, my group of best friends was constantly changing. Each year new friendships were formed as old friendships were lost, and given my understanding of adolescence, this is pretty typical. As teenagers, we are constantly making discoveries about who we want to be, and as a result, we often change who we associate with just as frequently. Somehow though, through this tumultuous period of my life, I was able to maintain strong and lasting friendships with four girls. By the time we got to high school, we were so well bonded that we dubbed ourselves J-MACK: Jessica, Meg, Amanda, Caitlin, and Kelly. Many of our other friends knew us by this name as well.
The funny thing about it was that we were all very different people in high school. Amanda was the rebel. She had to do everything first and was always the loudest. Caitlin, on the other hand, was obsessed with running, which the rest of us never understood. This spoke to larger facet of her personality; she was always very comfortable in her own skin. She knew what she liked and didn’t like and was very confident about it all. Kelly was a little bit like Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde. By day, she was quiet and sweet, but at night, what a party animal! We also never let her forget that she was always the shortest! Now Meg, she was a people-person. She got along with everyone and everyone wanted to get along with her, and then, there was me. I was the nerdiest of the bunch. I loved to read, and brought a book with me everywhere I went, even to our sleepovers. I was also probably the most frustrating at times. I never shied away from telling my friends when I thought they were doing something wrong.
The amazing part of all this is as we each journeyed through high school, to separate colleges, and then made different life choices, our friendship with one another has stayed in tact. At age 27, we are all still friends, and love seeing each other. Sure, there have been times when we’ve gone a month or two without speaking to one another, but somehow each encounter and conversation is as natural as the last.
I have never doubted that Meg, Amanda, Caitlin or Kelly wouldn’t be there if I needed them. I have never been afraid that they would disown me or distance themselves because of something I said or did. If anything, I have reveled in their friendship. It has sustained me, made me stronger, helped me to grow as a person. There is something so invaluable about having a group of people who has seen you make mistakes, succeed, and change. They have an intimate understanding of your strengths, your weaknesses, your family…you.
This past week, I was lucky enough to see most of these girls when I went home for Thanksgiving, and I was reminded of the treasure I have been blessed with. So, even though Thanksgiving is over, I want to say thank you to my friends, to JMACK. You hold a place in my heart that cannot be filled by anyone else. I love you.