Sunday, August 26, 2012

Friends Matter!

Robin & I: 1971 - going for a Guiness Book record

School started this week. As I watched 970 students arrive to middle school I was reminded again how important having a friend is. No matter how scary or difficult a situation may seem, if you’ve got a friend by your side, it seems easier and far less scary.

Robin was my best friend in Springfield, Massachusetts. In the spring of 1971 Robin and I decided that we wanted to be in the Guinness Book of World Records. We pitched the idea to our parents who all agreed it was a great idea. The best plan Robin and I could come up with was to enter in the category for longest time on a dipsy-doodle (plastic see-saw).  Our parents quickly agreed it was the perfect idea. Hours on the dipsy-doodle would be easy to supervise.
We began rocking early in the morning on the driveway of Robin’s house. Friends and neighbors stopped by to visit. Grownups brought snacks, teenagers came to tease and torment us, and younger siblings, Beth and Mark, entertained us. No one thought we would last very long. We rocked on. My dad took pictures. You may notice that the sign in front of us indicates 9pm and we are looking wet. It is raining. We're smiling. We rock on. The neighborhood goes to sleep, we rock on.  I don’t recall how long we stayed on that dipsy-doodle, but together we proved that we were a force to be reckoned with, and we had the strength, determination and persistence to reach our goal.

Six years later Robin and her family came to visit us in Nova Scotia. When Robin and I asked my dad if we could pack up the canoe, paddle across the pond, down the creek to the “big lake” and camp out on the island in the middle, he took pride in our adventurous spirit and quickly agreed that our plan sounded excellent. Robin and I began packing.  Mom and dad began fighting (I did not know this until very recently).
Mom thought dad was crazy for letting two young teenage girls go off by themselves to a remote island unsupervised. She immediately pictured the secluded beach on the “big lake” which often had signs of parties left over, smashed beer bottles being the main concern. Dad who couldn’t imagine anyone ever wanting to hurt another could only imagine the adventure Robin and I would have. He knew I’d come back with great stories.

A compromise was reached. Robin and I could go but only if we took our German Sheppard, Timmy. We did.  We paddled off on our adventure. We reached our destination and pulled the canoe to shore. We walked into the untamed woods and found a small clearing to set up camp. We built a fire, prepared our dinner and were thrilled with our accomplishment. We giggled and swapped stories until long after dark and then we put the fire out and crawled into our sleeping bags.
In the stillness of the night Timmy began to get restless. We began to hear voices, music, laughter and shouting. The party on the shore beach had begun. Robin and I got scared. We comforted each other with the knowledge that we had pulled the canoe out of view, just as mom had instructed. We had put the fire out, just as mom had instructed. No one would know we were there. We stopped being scared and even began to feel smug in our courage. Then Timmy began to bark. We were terrified. Now they would know someone was on the island. We began to imagine bad things, but quickly convinced ourselves that although he wasn’t, at least Timmy sounded like a ferocious guard dog. But mostly we were comforted in the knowledge that drunks would never attempt to swim out to the island.
We didn’t sleep much and packed up camp early the next morning. Although we’d been scared most of the night, we felt a sense of pride in our accomplishment as we canoed back to our pond to see our parents waiting for us on the dock. We never told them how scared we’d been. It no longer mattered. We were safe. We’d reached our goal. We had stories to tell. We’d do it again in a minute.
Friends matter.
Everyone has a story to tell . . .
Resources for the curious mind:
Robin's running for NY State Senate!!
Curious about Springfield, MA:
Visit Nova Scotia: