We have talked a lot in our house these last few weeks about friends. The kind you have when you are 13. The friends that know all of your secrets and will take your side, even if you are so wrong. As an adult, I have very few close friends. I’m not good at being friends. I like to stay at home, I don’t feel good a lot and sometimes I just want to be by myself. Actually, I prefer to be with the kids and Ken. I like when Mother comes and I love going to Indiana and seeing Kendall. I think that this craving for isolation stems from so many years of being a stay-at-home mom. It’s my comfort zone.
However, when I was young I had so many sweet friends. People I went to school with, people I went to church with and their friends, people I went to church camp with. We went to the Roll-a-Rena every weekend. We went to the mall. I collected boys phone numbers like some people collect baseball cards. I was boy crazy!
When I was in the 6th grade, I had a best friend, Jonna Arnold. Jonna Hackman now. I was so intrigued by Jonna. First of all, I knew no one else named Jonna. She was beautiful, smart, so sure of herself. She had more clothes than anyone I knew. Her mother was sophisticated and striking. She flitted around with the same self assurance that Jonna exuded. Her little sister, Alicia, who drove us crazy. She told on us. A lot. Her father, Bill, was just plain scary sometimes. Ha. He wasn’t afraid to say exactly what he thought. And he usually did. I can remember going on a trip one time with them and him telling me to ‘Spit my gum out now!’ because I had been popping it. He was also kind and funny. At 12 years of age, I was in awe of the whole family.
Jonna and I spent every minute together. Every Sunday morning before church, we would go to Dunkin Donuts. I always got Dutch Crumb, she always got Bavarian Cream. When I go home now, the kids and I always go to the same donut shop and I still get Dutch Crumb. My girls have heard about Jonna and I being there a thousand times.
We also used to eat Bob Evans a lot. Jonna didn’t like the outside of her biscuits. We tore our biscuits open, I at the outsides, she ate the insides.I told her I preferred the outside. I really didn’t care, I loved all food, even back then. I would have eaten the whole biscuit. Somehow, I thought it was better to share this quirk with her. We had a routine that was ours alone, no one on the outside even noticed. That’s what friends do.
Jonna played sports. She played all sports and she played them well. I couldn’t hit the side of a barn with a basketball and the only way I could have hit anything with a tennis racket is if I threw the racket at it. I didn’t care though, because her playing sports meant that when the cute guys were outside playing basketball, we could join in. I was just embarrassing but she was good enough that we could at least score. One of my favorite memories was playing basketball in her driveway with Phil and Tony Reynolds. My goodness. I actually got a boyfriend out of this particular game of horse. All because of her!
We went to King’s Island one year with my parents. We had ridden so many rides and we were kind of worn out so we decided to ride the rail cars because they were in the shade and it was hotter than the inside of an oven. As we were standing in line, two guys noticed Jonna. They were flirting and she was being coy and they were all laughing. I stood there like a dolt. Big goofy grin on my face, I’m sure. But I didn’t care. There were two guys after all, I’d end up with one of them, it didn’t matter to me that she got the pick of the litter. She was the one who garnered their attention, after all. We spent the rest of the afternoon riding railcars with two strangers. We had a ball.
Jonna and I went to church camp together. Our adventure, one year, included a man who had escaped from a jail, I think, and showed up at camp. I loved the drama of it all, it scared the crap out of Jonna and she went home, I was lost the rest of the week without her.
One of my very favorite memories was Jonna’s 16th birthday party. Her parents surprised her with a new car. A ‘Smokey and the Bandit’ car, no less. I remember Gary Pierce handed her a model car that matched it and told her Happy Birthday. She was crest fallen. Then her dad led her out into the garage and there was the real thing. I was so excited for her! Well, and for me. I mean, who do you think was going to ride shotgun!
Jonna introduced me to Gary Numan. She loved the song ‘Cars’. We listened to that record until it was warped.
As we grew older, our interests differed enough that we slowly drifted apart. We still went to church pitch-ins and raced to get a slice of Grace Felzine’s butterscotch pie. We went to the church dinners we had at Killbuck park and hung out with Rex and Virginia Kendall and their group. They were older than me and I thought I was so cool. Rex loved Jonna, he always did. He was so pretty! I was never jealous though. I was never jealous of anything about Jonna. I just loved her.
I haven’t seen Jonna in probably 30 years. I was so thrilled when I found her on Facebook. It was so sweet catching up and seeing her family. When I got on FB a few days ago and saw a Caring Bridge post concerning her, my stomach sank. I’ve had her on my mind constantly since then. We go through our every day lives, dealing with our own every day chaos and we lose sight of what is important. I’m going to add her to my bucket list. I want to sit with her and talk about all the silly times we had. I want to talk about all the boy’s hearts we broke. I want her to play the piano for me. I’m sure it will be a little while before these things can happen, I’m kind of exhausting. Maybe she can try to teach me to play tennis again, the first time was a total failure and I’m pretty sure I peed my pants from laughing so hard. Whatever we end up doing, it will be fun. Everything we ever did was fun and I can’t wait.