I grew up in the very small community of Growing up Loleta in the 1950’s was the best of times. (up in Humboldt County---please spare me the “pot” jokes, I’ve probably heard them all!).
A small town of about eight hundred (I used to joke that included the cows, but in fact, the rich dairy land in the Loleta bottoms probably had a larger populations than that of our human one).
One of the advantages of living in a small town like Loleta is the close-knit community feeling. Any event you attended was merely an extension of the people you knew from home/school/church. There was no need to put up a façade, or indeed, was that even possible, since everyone knew everyone else! What you did on the playground, whose birthday party you went to, or even what you had in your lunchbox every day was public knowledge.
I attended first through eighth grades in the same school, and then went on to high school in the “big” town of (population 5,000) five miles away. There were cliques in my high school, same as today, but instead of the jocks and the cheerleaders, the geeks and the stoners we tended to stay in our own little small-town groups—Loleta, Fortuna, Hydesville, Rhonerville, Rio Dell/Scotia.
I have stayed in touch with two of my best friends from those years. After high school it was Christmas cards and , with an occasional letter or postcard thrown in. After we all hooked up on the Internet in the late 1990’s, our friendship was easier to maintain. So much so that when we get together now, we don’t have to spend a great deal of time getting “caught up” on each other’s lives. We reminisce, we laugh, we cry. We are comfortable in each other’s presence because of the history we share.
Earlier this month the three of us held a “slumber party” weekend in Sacramento. Although the kool-aid and potato chips were replaced by tapas and sangria, the giggles and laughter and friendship were as they had always been—easy and loud and full of love for old friends.
For more on the value of “old” friendships see: