Isn't aging great? Today I had my yearly physical – a great reminder that yes, life does pass us by. I don't like a whole lot of things about aging, but I do like this: I feel wiser. I feel more understanding and forgiving. This, and only this, I like about aging.

Tonight I was catching up on blogs. Do you blog-stalk people? I do sometimes. I follow blogs for pretty much anyone I know or knew at any point in my life. Let me tell you about one of my favorite blogs to stalk.

When I was in 3rd and 4th grade, I lived in a very small town (population 500 or something). I had a best friend there, Stacy, and we had a couple of guy friends that we did a lot with. One guy I will focus on here because he is an important part of the story is Matt.

Stacy was fun. She lived on a farm, and while I was the furthest thing from a farm girl, I enjoyed spending time there. We had deer tacos at her house, which I didn't like so much. Funny the things you remember. I do remember laughing and laughing and laughing with her.

All of the 4th grade girls had a crush on Matt, including me and Stacy. At the school carnival, the fortune teller told all the 4th grade girls they were going to marry Matt. It didn't take too long before we caught on to that! But Matt only had eyes for me and for Stacy, but only as friends, of course. We were in 4th grade!

In fact, Matt and I were such good friends that I even spent the night at his house once. I cannot believe my parents left me there considering Matt had 3 brothers and no sisters, but my parents were out of town and that's where I stayed, probably because my mom and his mom were best friends and she knew that I would be fine there. I actually had one of the most special and spiritual experiences of my life that night. Matt was talking about his aunt, who had been murdered a few years before in this same tiny town. We started talking about spiritual things, and he was crying, and it was kind of cool. I still remember it well. What I remember most about that is that we were listening to the Eagles at the time, “Heartache Tonight.” Again, funny the things you remember. We loved that song and listened to it over and over. I still like that song.

Matt is now a psychiatrist. He probably got on that path that night! This story is not really about Matt, but I just wanted to give a little background on him because he comes into play later.

Towards the end of 4th grade, we moved away to another state. During the 4 years we were gone, I wrote to both Stacy and Matt, and when we moved back to this small town when I was 14, while I hated the thought of moving at all, I was glad it was at least to be back with my friends.

Long story short, it did not go so well. 

My parents and Matt's were good friends. They invited us over for a night of dinner and games right away after we got back. Stacy got wind of it, and after that she made my life very unpleasant. It was 14-year-old girl stuff, you know, and it was no fun. For 4 long years until we graduated from high school, it was no fun. For me, at least.

I am not sure everything that Stacy told people so that they wouldn't be my friend, but a few things that came back to me were that I was a drug addict, that I had given a baby up for adoption, and worst of all, that I was a “leech.” It was really hard to make friends. In fact, while I stayed in this town until I graduated from high school, I never considered it “home” again and could not wait to leave after I graduated. To this day, I get a sick feeling in my gut every time I even get near the place.

Matt was always nice to me. Our families did things together occasionally and we always had a good time when we were together, but strangely we never had a class together and just kind of went in different directions. He was never anything but my good childhood friend. Even today, if I needed a psychiatrist, I would go to him! I know he would listen. 🙂 In a nutshell, I never became a threat to anyone where Matt was concerned, romantically. He was like a brother to me.

Stacy, well, she was pretty much the most popular girl in school. Head cheerleader, super smart, boys surrounding her (never really Matt though, after 9th grade, oddly), and she was always downright snotty and rude to me.

I remember one time in particular something had gotten back to me that she said, and it upset me so much that I broke out into hives. Now, it is not normal for me to break out into hives. In fact, it has NEVER happened before or since, which tells me I was pretty traumatized.

My mom let me stay home from school, and she let me hang out with Matt's mom, who was about my favorite person on the planet at that time. I remember we just sat on her bed most of the day and chatted. She told me that Stacy was just jealous, and after that I always felt better about it. I avoided Stacy like the plague and I'm sure she did me as well.

So, finally out of this small town and all its drama at age 18, I ran into Stacy at a gas station on the way back to college after Christmas break our freshman year. I was perfectly content to just pay for my gas and pretend I didn't see her, but do you know what she did? She looked right at me and smiled. And then she asked if she could talk to me for a minute.

She told me that she felt awful about how she had treated me. She told me she was jealous and was afraid not only that Matt would like me, but that I would steal her friends. She said that she saw the attention I was getting from Matt's family when I first moved back and she didn't like it at all and determined to stop it. She said that many times she had wanted to talk to me and apologize, but didn't know at that time how it could even be fixed. And really, it probably couldn't have at that point; the damage was done.

I accepted her apology and told her that I forgave her and had moved on. And I had. I really didn't think of her much then or since, for over 20 years.

Then a funny thing happened. A few years ago, she friended me on Facebook. She had her blog linked on her page so I started reading it, and every time I do, I wonder why I didn't work harder to make amends with her long ago! She is such a great person! Her blog makes me laugh and cry and brightens my day. Tonight when I read her most recent post I was laughing so hard and just remembering how much fun we had when we were little 3rd and 4th graders, before all the drama.

I wish it would have been different back then. Certainly, ages 14 to 18 would have been much more pleasant for me with her as a friend rather than an enemy. But now it just seems like a dumb thing, and I actually really, really like her. I forgive her. Our interests are very different now as life has taken us in different directions, but I think that now if I were to see her, we really could just forget it all even happened and just have a good laugh – be fun little 9- and 10-year-old small town girls again, laugh about funny things, have a crush on the same boy and not let it get between us. I regret the time we missed making life miserable for each other when we could have been friends, but I kind of like the “grown up,” more casual friendship that we have now. We don't chat much. In fact, she probably does not even know that I read her blog. But I can honestly say that looking back on it now with 40-something-year-old eyes as opposed to 14-year-old eyes that she has made me a better person. She brought joy to me as a childhood friend, taught me many, many things about myself through all the teenage drama, and now as a middle-aged woman she makes me smile and laugh again. I am glad to have her in my life, even if she doesn't know I'm there stalking her blog.

This is what I like about growing up.