The Girls I Left Behind

Column by Bonnie J. Gordon

I’m grateful to my friends — my new friends for giving me a chance and my old friends for hanging in there with me all this time.

I’ve done things like lose touch for 30 years until rediscovering someone of Facebook and low and behold, most of these people still want to be friends with me.

Maybe that’s less surprising than that people right here in Los Alamos put up with me on a daily basis.

You don’t get another chance with everyone. 

Some people are gone for good, whether by choice or by mischance.  

I look back and think, how could this have happened? How could I have neglected people I loved this much until they disappeared?

I met my friend Winifred when she and her twin sister Jennifer came riding their tricycles down my street when I was four.

Win and Jen were my friends from that day forward. Things got a bit dicey around Junior High School.

They were cheerleader material. I was nerdy and fat. We didn’t socialize at school, but Win would meet me on the corner and listen to my problems and dreams.

I had a lousy family situation and got desperate and rebellious. She was LDS and in spite of being popular and gorgeous, Win was a very good girl. I wasn’t.

She worried about me. I told her things I didn’t tell anyone. She accepted me when I made decisions she thought were sinful, crazy or just weird.

Although I didn’t really know it at the time, her acceptance convinced me I might be worthwhile after all.

I went away to college. She got married. By the time I got around to having kids, her kids were getting married. I got wrapped up in my kids, my job etc., etc.

She moved to Salt Lake and I guess she’s there still. I think I will find her again someday. I hope so. 

I don’t think I will find Kerry again, though I will never give up. We met when I was 25 and she was 19.

She was about three times smarter than me so it worked out. I could tell Kerry anything and she understood because she, too had a wild heart.

We broke all the rules for female behavior and if we sometimes went too far and alienated everyone around us, we had each other.

I could say anything to her and she wasn’t shocked. She came to visit me in Texas when no one else would. She was with me when my twins were born.

The last time I saw Kerry was at her mother’s wake about 12 years ago.

I don’t think I said something wrong. We were just lazy about keeping in touch. I had a lot of complicated stuff going on and I’m sure she did, too.

But when I tried to reconnect she wouldn’t answer my emails. I asked her ex to give her my contact info but she never contacted me. 

Some change happened that I wasn’t privy to. Does she regret her wild youth? Does she see all my glaring faults when she looks back?  

I was kind of a mess, but it didn’t bother her at the time. Does she just not care?

Sometimes I miss her so much it brings tears to my eyes. I have wonderful friends, but no one will ever take her place. It’s a little like unrequited love. 

If I never find them again, I’ll never, ever forget them. These women steal into my dreams. I wish I could tell them what they meant to me — what they mean to me.

I keep moving forward. I meet new friends, but some part of me will always be looking back. I’ll always be looking for Win and Kerry.

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