Monday, December 28, 2009

A Celebration of Friends Series: Mike Jackson and Rich Rustad

I realize this is JUST a person entry but one about several of my friends but I simply can’t single them out because we all hung out together and know each other’s history…

“If there are two people I get more than anyone, it’s you and Rich.” That’s what Mike said a couple of weeks ago when I was updating him on things at lunch. It feels good to go to bed at night and know that there are people who just simply KNOW you for who you are and you don’t need to make excuses for anything.

Mike was the first kid I became friends with when I moved to Valley Park back in 1978(?). I had just moved to the area from a farm in Cannon and we ended up in the same second grade class together with Miss Meyer. We had a group of kids we hung out with and he was one of the “popular” kids while I was a nerd off the farm with my western shirts, overalls and waist length braids. The kids used to make fun of me and he always stuck up for me no matter what. My family eventually moved into a house 3 houses down from his, his folks were friends with my folks, we rode the bus together, had the same classes together all the way up to college... He introduced me to the other kids in the neighborhood, Rich, Jason, and Chm.

Then I moved to Mankato and he moved to Winona to go to college. We still kept in touch through our mutual friends and family. Then in 2005(?) he got married to a wonderful woman and had kids of his own. I am truly happy for him; for this was something he’d wanted for a long time and for whatever reason eluded him. He was one of the first we all figured would marry and funny he ended up almost being the last. Interestingly enough when we met in Miss Meyers class I’d never have guessed in a million, trillion, bazillion years we’d still be friends, especially after the shiner he gave me after kissing him near the second grade bathrooms. He and our other mutual friends have been pals for years and I think by now we all just “get” one another and are still at each other’s backs no matter how much time has passed, married or unmarried, kids or no. We don’t need to be together or in communication all the time to still just be friends.

Rich lived 3 houses down, kitty-corner from mine. I met him through Mike when we were in the third or fourth grade. He was the person who introduced me to KISS. He was a fanatic and had every album, including each solo. We’d sit for hours in his room and listen to the albums back to back. His folks were friends with my folks so he was one of 2 people I was allowed to hang out with without much fuss. I went through elementary school, junior high and high school with him and when it was time for us to go to college; he went with Mike to Winona while I went to Mankato. Rich was the second in our lively group to get married, I believe the first to have kids and the first to get divorced. He was the guy who went to a majority of the dances with me because I wasn’t allowed to date in High school.

I was pleasantly surprised when he announced that he was going to get married shortly after high school. When I finally got to met the woman he intended to marry I was quite surprised to find it was to a girl I had been friends with and attended junior high with as well.

We have gone through the friendship trails together: fights, make-ups, b-friends, g-friends, family stuff, and siblings and have all come out the other end of each intact, extending that hand to take if needed.

I have gained support, encouragement, wisdom, advice, and solidarity from them both on different levels. I completely enjoy this vast, ongoing, great friendship I have and continue to have with each. I am enriched more than I can explain through these friendships, of lives that are not my own. Through marriages, divorces and children, they allow me to live through them and I am grateful for that. Because of them I can actually be grateful for the mundane aspects of my life as a singleton– my jobs, my relationships, my LIFE. That I can selfishly complain about the mundane means that I am healthy in body, spirit and mind. They are the type of friends that even though we may not talk to each other every day, we can spend 5 mins catching up and it seems as if no time has passed.

Thanks guys for being my friends through all the drama we’ve been through- we do it together!
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