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childhood friends

June 22, 2012

Yesterday, I had coffee with a childhood friend I hadn’t seen in 20 years. I walked into Ebenezers Coffeeshop and was instantly transported back in time to the village of Gielblestadt, Germany where my family lived for a few years.  Wes and his sister Jennifer lived next door to us. They were our American friends. We rode bus 34 with them 30 minutes every day to our elementary school in Wurzburg. We played on the playground together behind our houses. Our parents were friends and went to military functions together. Our backyards shared a wooden crisscrossed picket fence.

What I remember most about Wes, besides the fact that he ate dried seaweed dipped in soy sauce for a snack, was his incredible creativity. He and Jennifer taught us new games they had made up. He regularly created words (felsaunce…which, I think, meant awesomely awesome) and got the neighborhood kids to use them, while also convincing us that those words were then used in the newest Ace of Bace song (“I’m so felsaunce”..also known as “I saw the sign”). They watched our dog, Scout, once while we were on vacation and they gave her the nickname “Scooters,” which she answered to; I remember wondering if she liked the name better.

Over coffee at Ebenezers, now adults in our late twenties, Wes and I talked about our experiences growing up as military children, moving every two years, shifting from school to school (Wes rarely spent more than one year in a school at a time. I was a bit more lucky to spend three of my high school years in one place, no doubt because of the determination of my father in an act of investment in our family).  We shared memories about the German neighbors that lived across the street from us – Clara and Dieter – and talked about the mutual friends we have as a result of living on the same military base at different times in our lives. We caught up on our families’ lives, the career paths they’ve taken and where they have ended up geographically.

Our lives are quite different today.  He in New York, I in DC. He is single, I with a family of my own. His parents still in the military, mine retired. He in town for a work trip, I having just left my full-time job. But our childhoods connect us, shaped by such similar experiences.  We connected over Facebook a couple of years ago, realizing that we both work in communication and have quite a bit in common in our experiences there. And perhaps it was our military-kid childhoods that shaped our personalities in a way that it drove us to a field like communication.

How incredible social media is that it has the power to reconnect us with old friends and to transport us back to another time in our lives.

We snapped this picture for our parents before Wes boarded the train at Union Station back to New York City.

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