Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Our Gang~ Old Friends

When I was a young girl of 12-14 and the joy of middle school was upon me I made friends with a group of kids that meant the world to me. We all had our own issues in life and came together when we all really needed each other. We formed a little group we called "Our Gang" like the old TV series. We got shirts and we each took a character. There was Spanky, Darla, Buckwheat, Alfala and me Jomie. We had a great time running the grounds of our apartment complex. Spanky was my boyfriend and Buckwheat was my best friend. Darla and Alfala played supporting roles but were still important to me. We would ride the bus to mall to watch the movie Lost Boys over and over. We visit the local ice cream store and eat frozen floaties in a cone. I have distinctive memories of events with both of my boys. Buckwheat I remember walking up to him at school and patting him on the back and he winced. It turned out, his dad, I believe, had hit with a belt and he had welts on his back. That was a reality slap for my young self. Buckwheat was a sweetheart what would make his father do that to him. What was I suppose to do about? Do you tell like your gut said or honor him and not say anything? I went with the honor him but have always wondered if it was the wrong choice. Buckwheat when I met him was the definition of preppy, he wore dress shirts and ties and carried a briefcase to school, but you could see the twinkle of fun in his eye when you looked at him. In one of my conversations with Buckwheat I learned that he had never had a birthday party, that was unimaginable to me and I told my mom we had to fix that. We held a party for him, nothing fancy but it was all for him. I think it may have been a soccer theme and we had a poster hanging in the kitchen of soccer player. Then there was Spanky. My first big memory of Spanky was of him literally smashing in to me. We were at a haunted trail in our apartment complex and Spanky came running out of the trail and right in to my arms. My young heart was touched by him and he became my first love. Spanky's mom would often ask me to babysit his little sister while she went out. I remember spending time with him and talking to him. He became very special to me. I recall one time his father came to visit and said something to him that upset him, I think it was about him be a little chunky. I think I was there when it was said but not in the room, because I remember him coming in the room and trying so hard to look like it didn't upset him and that he wasn't about to cry. I am not sure if I was babysitting that night or what but I for some reason remember holding him and trying to make it better for him. Spanky and Buckwheat were always there for me as well. I remember feeling like I didn't fit in with my family, that I was so different from my Mom and my sister but when I was with my my gang it felt like the world was right. I learned so much from my boys and thought they would be with me forever.

Unfortunately forever wasn't in the cards. When I was 14 and a freshmen in high school my mom thought we should move 2 hours away. It broke my heart to leave my boys. I saw them occasionally for visits but as life happens we drifted apart. I remember the last time I saw Spanky, I had brought a new friend with me to visit him and we were sitting in his room, I can still see him there. Had I realized that it would be the last time I would see him I would have done things differently and said stuff I wanted him to know. Buckwheat I did better about keeping in touch with. He didn't move until I did. I talked to him and wrote to him. The summer before my senior year he came down and stayed with a friend of mine. It was great to have him back in my life. He wasn't the preppy kid any more but he was still my buckwheat and my heart was happy to have him back. He even went with me for my senior portraits and was in 3 of mine with me. He went back home before school started and I worried about him and missed him. The night I graduated high school I walked off the stage and he was standing there. I couldn't believe it. I had to hug him and hurry back to my seat. After the ceremony we went back to the hotel we were staying at with my dad. We hung out and talked. Then he left. I remember trying to convince him to stay for my graduation party the next night but he didn't. Again if I had known that would be the last time I would see him, what would I have said differently? That night Jason officially gave me my engagement ring and 2 months later we were married and moved to Hawaii. One time in Hawaii I was able to track him down and found out he was in the National Guard. I called the National Guard and tracked him down and found out he was on drill and when he would be back. I called and actually talked to him the day he got back but he couldn't really talk and that was the last I talked to him.

Until a few weeks ago I got an instant message from a girl I have kept in contact with and she said she found Buckwheat on Facebook. So I immediately went and looked for him and there he was. I have looked for him on line ever so often over the years with out any luck. I couldn't believe I had finally found a way to contact him. I sent him a message and he lives just a couple of hours away with his wife and son. I am trying to figure out a way to get to see him. But it has been wonderful chatting with him via messages and a couple of times on the phone.

While chatting with my friend that found Buckwheat I mentioned I thought I saw Spanky on LinkedIn but sent a message and never heard back. She went and sent him a message and heard back from him so I gave it a try and got an email back from him as well. He lives in northern Indiana with his wife, twin daughters and an infant son. The funny thing is he lives near my sister in law who we visit usually twice a year.

So after almost 20 years I have my boys back in my life. It is great to hear from them and see how they are doing. To see what they remember from our time as "Our Gang", it's funny what they remember from what I remember. I am glad they are happy and have wonderful families. I hope to some day get to lay my eyes upon them again and give them a hug. Until then I am happy knowing they are Ok and that I can send them an email when I want to say "Hi"

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