Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Childhood Friends & #PortProblems

Childhood friends are always an interesting topic to me. Looking back I always felt like I didn't really have friends. There were some girls at church that I knew and there were some people in school that were nice to me, but for a long time I didn’t feel like I really really had friends. But then I look back at home videos and get together with friends and reminisce and realize that there were friends in my life – it was a lovely realization! And peppered throughout all of them was my friend Tami. 

I have known Tami since I was 8 (I've talked about her before, here). I grew up going to Arrowsmith Baptist Church but when I was 8 we switched to St. Albans. It was a hard switch for Jenna and I. We had been going to Arrowsmith since we were born – our family was there, our cousins were there, our friends were there, our grandma was there. Arrowsmith was the center of our world for many years – our Auntie Sandy worked there as a secretary and when she was working we would be hanging out with her, climbing all over the desks and chairs and having fun exploring the church. Switching to a building and a people that we didn’t know was hard! It was definitely a growing edge to learn how to make friends there, but I remember from day one there was Tami Doughty (Tam-wy Doody, as some call her). Tami was right in between Jenna and I age wise, and strangely seemed to love things both of us loved, despite how different Jenna and my interests were. When I look at home videos I can always see Tami at our birthday parties…and as we grow older she continues to be there. I am so thankful to have a friendship that spans so many years! I turned 30 this year (9 months ahead of Tami) and can’t believe that means we have shared 22 years of friendship!

More than any other friend Tami and my lives seemed to intersect. Growing up at St. Albans (later Alberni Christian Fellowship) we went to Sunday School together, then junior youth group together, then regular Youth Group and finally Young Life. We have traveled all over for church: LA, Mexico, CreationFest, up and down the island, MissionsFest in Vancouver.

We went to the same High School, and later we ended up at the same University and even had a class together!! When I was living in Nanaimo we would often get together, and later she even moved in with me there. We both moved to Tofino, summer 2002, and she got a job where I was working, at the Wickanninnish Inn. We went to the beach and to work and to hang out with friends and she was always just there.

I remember taking a trip with Tami over to Vancouver to visit our friend Sarah when we were 23/22.  We got up bright and early and caught the 6:30am boat. We were hyper and silly and mostly acted like the silly kids we used to be. Once we caught up with Sarah, the silliness continued and that day is one of my fondest memories.

Tami and I shared crushes, and adventures and silly dreams. We were in choir and ball hockey together. When our youth group would ski I would go with Tami and her Dad, Gary….Jenna and Tami would snowboard side by side, and Gary and I would ski. Gary taught me to water ski (I wasn’t great) and helped me learn to be a good skier (he’s seriously good at it). Tami’s family lived out at the lake and had a hot tub, dock and boat (much sought after) and they were always happy to share and invite you out. I loved their generosity and hospitality.

Last month was my friend Tami’s 30th birthday on the island. To see her surrounded by a wonderful group of friends warms my heart. Everyone at the party was absolutely lovely, though I wouldn't expect anything less from people who loved Tami. We had a lovely dinner and then went back to Tami’s place to sit in the woods at the fire pit. Despite the -3 temperatures, the roaring fire was warm and the friends were so much fun. We laughed and laughed….we were out there until almost 2am. I even joined the boys and went on a zipline in the dark at 1am!

Tami is going to be having a child this spring, and is with a wonderful man named Eric. I love seeing her flourish and be loved. She is already a great teacher, and is going to make one heck of a mom!

Another blessing from Tami’s birthday was seeing some Port Alberni people. Port is my home town and now that my parents live on the mainland I rarely make it over…and when I do I’m mostly seeing family or specific friends…I don’t usually get to see a whole bunch of random people unless I run into them in Walmart (like you are guaranteed to do in a small town). Port Alberni has 20,000 people in it…it’s a small town but it’s also very possible to be from that town and not know a lot of the people. Growing up I had a pretty wide base of people we knew – church, school, sports, dance…plus my parents are “people” people so we knew tons of people from all sorts of places. Usually, if you’re around Port, we can find a few people we know in common. This evening was no exception. There were two Port people (and a whole gaggle of people who teach in Port but aren’t from there), this makes sense as Tami lives in Nanaimo but teaches in Port. One of the girls at the party, Lindsay, used to live one house down from me from the age of 5 until my parents moved. Funnily enough, while I saw her around, we never really talked growing up. There was a year between us (she was older than me and therefore intimidating) but we went to the same elementary school, junior high and high school. We've been in each others houses over the years, but never with great regularity. Lindsay and I are facebook friends and it was fun to get to catch up – I’ve noticed that her and I often share friends – watching her and Tami become friends was really fun. It was great to catch up with her! There was also a guy, Stuart, from my sisters grade. He was there with his very sweet girlfriend Katie who works in Port also teaching (who I remember hearing about ages ago when my friend Sarah was talking about her little sisters awesome redheaded teacher, who was friends with Tami). How fun it was to chat with the three of them – reminiscing about growing up in port (#portproblems) and just generally laughing and talking about a shared childhood experience. This isn't something I get to engage in often and I soooo enjoyed it. I think I’m glad Paul wasn't there just so he wouldn't have had to listen to all the port talk – though thankfully there were a bunch of non-Port people there…and we were in the woods, so mostly I do wish he was there.

Friday I had lunch with a friend from Port Alberni – I hadn’t seen her since graduation but really we hadn’t been close since grade 10. I had so much fun reminiscing with her about our grade 10 classes and our shared experiences. Mostly I spend my life looking forward, or looking back at my last few Vancouver years. To get to delve into the wonders of a Port Alberni Childhood was a real treat. Say what you will about Port Alberni (actually don’t, that’ll just bugs me), but that place is awesome. I know this article says the opposite, but honestly it's close to bigger cities, it's close to nature, it's got a wonderful lake and lots of things to see and do nearby. It’s a wonderful place to raise kids and it’s a great place to be grow up and learn to experience life. My childhood felt safe, but full of adventure. There were woods and lakes and rivers to explore. There were community events and annual celebrations. The teachers were great (generally), the sports were competitive and the theatre, music and dance programs were actually decent. We may have had a smelly Mill but we no longer do, we do have the best lake in the province, Sproat Lake (I would marry that lake if that was possible). The people in Port are some of the kindest people I have ever met – that town feels like home and family all rolled in to one and I’m so thankful to that area for raising me. They say it takes a village to raise a child and I would say Port Alberni did me well in that regard.

Thanks Tami for a fun Port flashback night – Happy Birthday, I am so so so lucky to be your friend. Here’s to another 22+ years! 

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