I met this girl the summer after 8th grade. (Side note: I went to a private school. I didn't have a lot of friends, thanks to cliques and me being a wallflower. Going into a public HS was kind of a big deal. I wasn't really sure I would make many friends but c'mon, there had to be someone like me! Going from a class of barely 30 to a class of almost 600? Odds were that I would find a friend. Or two.) My mom worked in a hospital and they were having like a health fair, so I was going along to get service hours or something. My mom saw a group of girls in these pom pom/cheerleader uniforms, about my age, and just walked right up to them and asked them what grade they were high school. (Another side note: as I've said before, my HS was really 2 on the same campus. So it was common for people to ask which one you went to and then heckle you for being the from the other one. It was obvious from the uniforms that these girls went to the other one.) She proceeded to tell them I was going to be in the 9th grade at the other school, but maybe we could still talk to each other. As it turned out, there was a girl named Dawn who was going into 9th grade too. I was embarrassed, I'm sure of it, but what teenaged wallflower isn't? I think we walked around a bit together or something, or maybe someone gave us a project to do together. I don't remember! But I do know that when I arrived at the first day of HS, I knew at least one other person who hadn't gone to my grade school.
Dawn and I had band class together. We were band geeks. I don't think we had any other class together, ever! As most high schoolers do, we found ourselves spending free time w/other band/choir type people. We had the same lunch hour and saw each other every day as a bunch of shared a table. (Side note: despite being a band geek, Dawn was also in the popular crowd, due to being on the pom squad. But she ate lunch w/us. No idea why.) I have to admit, I didn't really talk much to Dawn and honestly? We laugh today about how annoyed I always seemed to be at her. She coughed a lot and I always glared and covered my drink! At one point Dawn was dating my friend Kevin - who made fun of the way I ate. At any rate, b/c we traveled in the same circle, Dawn and I were frequently hanging out w/each other and all of our other friends. I don't remember when, but we got a little closer through band and sometimes even rode the bus to functions together. Did we room together when we went to FL? I think so...but we hung out a lot then. Dawn and my boyfriend got along, too, so that was nice. So the 4 years of HS rolled by and we were in each other's lives a bunch, but I wouldn't say we were best friends or anything. Graduation came (side note: graduation ceremonies for the 2 different high schools were separate.) and I played in the band for hers and I'm pretty sure she played in the band for mine. I went off to college and I was rooming w/my best friend (not Dawn).
So...move in day. I made up my mind not to be a wallflower. I talked to people, made an M over my head so they would remember me and probably embarrassed my best friend. (Side note: after about 2 weeks on campus, meeting people and going to class, I'd be walking down the main mall and people would go, "HEY I KNOW YOU!!" and make the M over their heads. Not surprisingly, I had no idea who most of them were. See people, this is why you do silly things - so people remember your name when they meet you!) Dawn and my boyfriend were both back at home and apparently they were keeping in touch. They came to visit me a few times and when I broke things off w/him, I'm guessing Dawn was getting a clue about the bad decisions I was making in my life. (Long story, I'd be happy to share it some time, but I was valuing the wrong things. That pretty much sums it up. Feel free to ask if you want to know more.) At the same time, Dawn had met a guy and was interested in him. He was a Christian. She told me about him and I told her about the Christian girl who lived across the hall from me. Tracy had invited me to some stuff...but I hadn't gone. Dawn was talking about how this guy was teaching her some things and causing her to really think about her life. She 'got saved' one night and I think I snorted when she told me that. Saved from what? Godzilla? Being swept away at sea? I had no clue. Things w/my roommate were going south (due to my stupid choices), I got wrapped up in some other dumb stuff, it was hard being that girl who put the M over her head, yadda yadda yadda...I felt like a double agent. Go home and be me. Go back to school and be the other me. I was getting exhausted! School was easy so tons of other stuff easily distracted me. Dawn kept calling, telling me about the Bible and asking why I wanted to do the stuff I was doing. She came up once and while we were sitting around I remember thinking that she was my only HS friend left. It was a pretty big deal so I told her a bunch of stuff you would tell a best friend. She spoke to me pretty harshly (so I thought) about my choices. When she was gone I told myself she was a hypocrite. It was like we switched personalities a little bit!
I was stressing out about everything but felt like I had a handle on it. Dawn kept calling. I felt like the world was spinning too fast and why did she want to hang out w/me if I made such bad decisions? She encouraged me to go talk to Tracy and her boyfriend had some classes at UWO....I met him and he gave me some rides home on weekends. Over time, I realized I couldn't keep going at the pace I had set for myself. I cried out to God and wanted what Dawn had. I started attending Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship w/Tracy and some friends and it wasn't long before things got better. I realized that Dawn was a better friend than any I had ever had and I didn't want to lose her the way I had lost others. Don't misunderstand me, I didn't go from one extreme to the next and I certainly didn't immediately snap right out of my bad decision making streak. It took time...I learned...I listened...but I did stop being the girl who had to work at being someone. I wanted to be the person God intended me to be. It took a while to figure that out, and of course I didn't really trust Him yet. At Christmas, Dawn and Tom gave me my own Bible. That thing went a lot of places w/me...it fell apart. I still have it all rubber banded together!
Dawn and her boyfriend got engaged and my for 3rd year of college, Dawn and I moved in together off campus. Those were the days! So many funny stories! We had a blast. In the beginning we had no TV. We moved in during the summer and spent a bunch of time being lazy and not getting up until noon. Dawn would listen to VCY on the radio. At first all the Bible talk and hymns annoyed me but I gave up and came to enjoy it =) If it wasn't for that, I wouldn't have heard my now favorite hymn. I cried when I heard it for the first time! I don't think Dawn even knows that. "Because He lives, I can face tomorrow..." The whole 'facing tomorrow' was a big deal to me. For a while, I hadn't wanted to face tomorrow and at that point, living w/Dawn, I was the happiest I had been in a long time! Even if we had no TV!! At the end of the summer, I was re-introduced to a tall skinny guy w/big curly hair that also went to IVCF. He laughed so loud and I secretly had a crush on him. I told Dawn I was 'over' boys and was just going into the semester 'solo'. Turns out the loud laugher and I had at least one class together that semester, in which he would bring the newspaper opened to the cross word puzzle. I would sneak it off his desk before he got a chance to sit down. He offered to give me a ride home after a few classes and said it was on his way home. "Well, if you're already going that way...." (Side note: it wasn't really on his way. Not that it was far off his path, but...not on the way.) Eventually we would sit and talk in the car outside my apartment. That always ended by our stomachs grumbling for dinner and he said he would have to go. I started inviting him to stay. He'd come in and us 3 would eat. We found out quickly that we were all comfortable enough to burp and fart in front of each other! (Don't be embarrassed, Mom, it was funny!) =) I remember later in the year the skinny guy told me that Dawn had asked him what his intentions were w/me. That's a true friend! After 4 months or so, that guy proposed to me and 6 months later, both of my best friends stood right next to me at my wedding.
Obviously I have left out so many things to make this long story shorter...but it was Dawn's birthday and I really wanted to write about her. I am so thankful for her!!! God used her in my life and I know it would not have turned out the same if she hadn't been willing to remain my friend. There really aren't any words I can use to describe how I feel about that...but 'joy' comes close =) Happy Birthday friend!