I am so grateful for my childhood friends. Growing up a child of the 70s and a teen of the 80s in rural Illinois, friends were everything. We were all products of working class baby boomers. Factory workers, business owners and farmers. Our town, Lacon, was pretty quiet and safe. We rode bikes and walked to school. We spent our summers at the pool from open to close. We had sleepovers, house parties and secret hiding spots in the woods. We spent hours making mixed tapes from the songs on the radio and lipsyncing with our pretend girl band. You could have a best friend, but you were always part of a larger group. Life was full.
What's interesting about a small town is that you grow up wanting to escape it, but looking back, you miss so much of the simplicity of the time and the town. As I walk this journey, I recognize so many different phases of my life. I can recognize when I was caught up in the dis-ease of busy-ness. Pushed by a culture to be more and do more, ignoring self-care all to be something I didn't want to be. Worried about other people's perception of what I was. Not who I was. A very un-natural state to live in. But, I'm one of the lucky ones. And I believe that so many of my childhood friends are too. Quite possibly because we have that foundation.
I moved away from Lacon in 1993 and with that lost touch with my childhood, quite literally. I was escaping the divorce of my parents and the loss of the only thing I knew for 23 years. No more family. No more tradition. Two things that were the foundation of my life. I was already a young Mom myself, trying my best to work through so much change all at once. I was married to my high school boyfriend and we were just trying to make it at a very young, naive age, when we moved the Kansas City. One year later we divorced. I was alone in a city with a two year old making $8 an hour. Looking back I have no idea how I did it, but going home was never an option. Where was home? My ex and I both decided to stay in Kansas City and we remained friends and co-parents. He is still my friend today and if anything, I'm very proud of how we raised our son.
Every one of us growing up in small town Illinois has a story. Amazing stories as a matter of fact. And as products of small town life, I am here to say that each one of us has surpassed the "label" of being from a small town. I've often found it very interesting that those that label, are usually the most close minded. I was labeled many times when I first moved here and met new people. The "where are you from" conversations always took an interesting turn to the perception of country folk being backwards.
Being able to reconnect with my friends via Facebook has been so amazing. I'm so proud of what we have become and overcome. Like I said, every one of us has a story. Now as we approach the end of our 5th decade on this earth, we have so much to look forward to. My friends are the most compassionate, caring, generous and humble people you'll ever know. From that small town of Lacon comes teachers, nurses, artists, foster moms, hair stylists, corporate executives, lawyers, business owners, ministers, coaches, daycare providers, healthcare workers, insurance agents, farmers, electricians and a yoga teacher. We've raised kids and now grandkids are showing up in our lives. We've suffered through loss of friends and family close to us and we've endured. I'm proud of my childhood and I'm proud of my friends. And I know that if we were to meet again tomorrow, it would be like we never missed a day!
Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
Love you and our life together ~