Wednesday, December 13, 2006

kindred spirits


"I've always dreamed of having a bosom friend...a true kindred spirit"

~Anne Shirley to her friend Diana Barry.

kindred spirit- a friendship that has no bounds; to be together in spirit always despite what circumstances life may bring your way.

This was our movie. We watched it probably twenty times, Siobbhan and I. It brought us closer together and we proclaimed after having watched the movie, that we too, had to be kindred spirits.
We were drawn to this movie because it emphasized how special it is to have one good friend. The challenges these young girls faced were things we could relate to. Self image concerns, insecurities, never feeling good enough, apprehensions about our life paths and not knowing where to place ourselves sometimes.

Siobbhan was older than me... by one month, one day and one year. Funny eh? When we first knew of one another, we kept our distance. Back then, she was known for her rebellious nature while I was trying to be a "teacher's pet." You had to be when you were hanging out with the librarian's daughter. When my parents divorced I was alienated by that group of friends. They no longer wanted to hang around me. It was like I was suddenly defective or something. I was now a "child of divorce" don't ya know. I think their parents thought I would suddenly be a bad influence. I then found a new group of friends. They were a far more interesting and ecclectic group of friends. They came from all walks of life- some had blended families, others had been adopted, a few had been living with their single parents (like me) and there were even some whose parents were still married (Siobbhan was one of them). She accepted me! This friendship was off to a great start.

Her family was very large. It was often busy and chaotic in her home and sometimes Siobbhan got lost in the crowd. Her dad had to work long hours and her mom was in school for nursing. It had to be a lot of pressure for her parents back then with four kids, in retrospect. Siobbhan's mom was an amazing seamstress. She sewed lots of clothes and halloween costumes for her family! From what I can recall, Adrienne was a very soft spoken, gentle hearted woman. She was always polite and smiled often. As a kid, I found her intriguingly mysterious. She striked me as the kind of mom that would not raise her voice very often but she could be firm when she had to. Siobbhan's dad Mike was very involved in his kids' lives. He coached a lot of sports at our school. He would do anything for you but he was a "no nonsense" kind of a dad. He would be the one I recall Siobbhan getting heck from! We deserved it though! His face would turn beat red as he would bite his lip and stand there with his hands on his hips scolding us from time to time.

My home life was challenging during this time. My parents were recently separated. Mom worked very long hours to try to make ends meet. She was hurting and trying to cope with her own feelings about the divorce. We remained in touch with dad but it was hard on all of us living apart now. It was my older sister Carrie who was often left to look out for me. She had a hard time because I used to give her a run for her money. I was a kid that couldn't stand still. I was a curious creature who needed to be out exploring the world at a very young age. My parents were in their early thirties during this time. Wow- now that I am an adult and around that age, it puts a completely different spin on things. I can't imagine having to part ways with your spouse when there are children involved. It was very difficult for both of them.

In our own way, Siobbhan and I were struggling with similar issues but our family circumstances were very different in many ways. We were and still are "old souls". Always compassionate for the underdogs, always intolerant of the over-achievers and there we were somewhere in the middle of it all. I felt confused and alone in this time of my life as I tried to make sense of so many things.

I had a vivid imagination as a kid. It kept me safe sometimes. It was like a shield for when things were difficult. I always felt so comforted having a friend that would take my thoughts away to a different place. A place that was free of worry or concern. I had no care in the world when I was with my kindred spirit. We would roam and explore together creating our very own childhood adventures. Often times we would hike the escarpment all day long with our packed lunch, the clothes on our back and eachother. That's all we needed. We'd sit in our favourite spot overlooking the city. We felt so big and invincible standing on top of the mountain. We'd just sit there and talk for hours on end about everything under the sun. Time stood still when we were together. Ask our parents because they would often be ready to send out a search party, as we strolled in after dusk.

A move eventually put some distance between us and Siobbhan was now entering grade 9. I felt abandoned as I apprehensively took to hanging around grade 8 students again. What a transition. I needed her. Eventually, fate would have its way and Siobbhan and I grew apart. Once I came to her high school in grade 10, she was well established with her new set of friends. It wasn't the same, although she tried to include me. I just wanted her to myself again. Life was getting far more complicated now. Boyfriends, homework, new friends, new pressures. I yearned for those days when life was simple. I missed those days but they were gone.

Life sometimes takes people in different directions, I have learned. However, some people leave footprints on our hearts and we are never, ever the same.

We finally re-connected a few years back. We embarked on a road trip to see my father in Wiarton. No kids, no hubbies. Just the two of us. It was as though no time had passed. We were still the same girls now in adult bodies. On the way home, we stopped, parked the car and with our ice cappuccinos, sat under an umbrella in our lawn chairs along the side of the country highway, smoking cigarettes like two school girls. I didn't want that moment to end.

I feel so alive in her presence. She remains good to the core. She is the most humble, kind, gentle, compassionate being I know. She oozes with comfort, wisdom and just plain old goodness. Her pleasures are focused around her family. She is a mother who will nurture her children with so much love that they will grow up to be happy, self-assured and conscientious young people. I will be indebted to her for life. She inspires me to be a good person.

We are mothers now together. How beautiful is that. Siobbhan has a beautiful daughter Sadie and just had a baby boy Jack who is three months older than Fischer. They will all be playmates, we are certain. Our husbands are so much like one another too. I believe we never lost sight of what we both wanted in our lives- to love and be loved. We both have been so blessed with our husbands.

Thank you for coming back into my life my dear Spiro. I can't wait to build many memories with you as we grow old together.

"I solemnly swear to remain faithful to my bosom friend as long as the sun and moon shall endure"

- Anne Shirley


Anonymous said...

You have articulated our life together perfectly!
At this moment i feel that you are truly the one friend in this world who "knows me".
I am the most fortunate person to have had and have you in my life... you are a beautiful human, laura neilly!
Love you

kd said...

OMG i can't tell you how many times i have watched 'anne of green gables'...especially the one where anne is all grown up (i also had a huge crush on megan follows). :) can we watch this sometime together? can we?!

constantina said...

you have certainly described siobbhan to a tee laura! what a lovely person that woman is! i have many thanks to offer her for the belly laughs and kindness that i felt showered with in our youth!