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When I posted my kindergarten graduation photos on Facebook, I was pleasantly surprised to receive messages and friend requests from people I last saw at the age of five. Through the miracle of social media, I now have the ability to learn what my kindergarten classmates have been up to for the past 40 years.
Cherub-faced Eric, who walked next to me in the processional, now has a full beard and a family of five.
Becky, the girl I envied for her pretty mass of curls, is a doctor and apparently uses a hair straightener every day.
Paige sent a message saying she had found her dad in one of my pictures. He had passed away when she was still young and she was excited to have this new photo of him to share with her family.
I wasn’t surprised that April had become a horse trainer. Even at the age of five, her passion for horses was evident.
Kate is now a chef in a fancy restaurant. That did surprise me because I remember she had an affinity for eating paste during craft time.
Melody was the girl that sat in the seat next to mine during the ceremony. I had forgotten her name years ago, but suddenly, through the miracle of Facebook, she is in my life again. As I was looking through 40 years of her photos, I suddenly found myself feeling very emotional.
Hubby looked up just as I swiped at a tear. “What’s wrong?”
He was genuinely concerned, but I still felt sort of stupid trying to put it into words.
“I’m just getting a glimpse of how the decisions we make as parents affect our children even into their adult lives.”
The summer after my kindergarten graduation, my family moved. We moved again when I was in third grade and then once more halfway through my sophomore year. Upon my high school graduation, we moved one more time, successfully eliminating my chances at ever having a continual, lifelong friendship with anyone I knew from childhood.
But Becky, Paige, Melody, April and Kate have continued their friendships. Forty years of photos show them at each other’s 6th birthday parties, 10th birthday parties and becoming teenagers together. Fun, happy pictures of their days on the cheerleading squad, summer times spent around a pool and group photos of the prom.
Throughout their adult lives, albums of “The Girls in Vegas” and “The Girls at Christmas” are scattered amongst pictures of the girls supporting one another through weddings, pregnancies, class reunions and life in general.
“You’ve never been one of the girls, have you?” It was more of a statement than a question. Hubby understood. He doesn’t have the benefit of a lifetime of memories with one group of friends either. I know a lot of people want to get away from their hometown and the people they’ve grown up with, but when you are on the other end of the spectrum, the hometown looks pretty good.
In my adult life, I have developed some very close friendships, but as close as we are, they still have a strong connection to their childhood friends. A connection I can never share or fully understand.
I don’t fault my parents. You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. I had some great experiences in each place I lived and made some really nice surface friendships that I remember with fondness. But when I recently went to the grocery store and ran into my daughter’s high school friends, I felt comfort in knowing that for the rest of her life, she will be tagged as one of the hometown girls. I’ve already posted their preschool graduation photos.