The Girls from Ames

I am reading The Girls from Ames by Jeffery Zaslow. A book blog I’ve reviewed for in the past contacted me because I am an Iowa girl too and the blogger thought I might have an insider take on this true story of friendship that has spanned forty years.

The women who make up the Ames girls are actually just a year older than I am. Most of what they recollect rings bells and I think I have a lot to say about it but not all at once.

I don’t have any friends who’ve known me my entire life. Friendships for me are often situational and those who do linger through time tend to do so in spurts. I have a small group of friends I am still in contact with – via Facebook now – that I met in high school. There is just one friend left from the middle school years and the farthest back I go with anyone who is not family are two guys I went to kindergarten with that I rediscovered on Facebook, but one of them unfriended me because I support same sex marriage. It’s kind of nonsensical because he unfriended me while remaining friends with our mutual kindergarten pal who happens to be gay. I don’t try to understand things like that.

The book covers quintessential growing up experiences for central Iowa that don’t necessarily translate for a tri-state river city kid like me. It also deals with the trials and tribulations of an in crowd, something I know from observation only. I resisted groups. Always hung on the edge and avoided opportunities to belong in cliques that could have been advantageous.

Here’s a clip:

I have more to say but wonder about your friends. Feel free to comment.

14 thoughts on “The Girls from Ames

  1. It’s funny how Facebook has taken on such a big part of our current culture. Through it I have renewed friendships with many people I have known since the third grade. When my spouse Michael died, a close friend notified our mutual elementary school friends. Even though I had not seen most of them since high school, they all gathered around me to offer support. It was quite touching. I was even surprised by some of the guys I never would have thought could by sympathetic to my loss, given that I am out. Sometimes I think Facebook provides some safe distance for people to interact who wouldn’t be as comfortable in person. At the same time, exhanges on Facebook become published chronicles of interaction, so I can see why someone might be a bit challenged to be seen as consorting with the enemy. I can do without the drama anyway.


    1. People we knew as children only can be surprising when we meet up with them again as adults. There is a girl … woman … who I barely knew in high school who I see really only occasionally at reunions and running here or there when I get back to my hometown. In high school she was Miss Popularity, leader of the in crowd and I was a fat chick with glasses who wrote for the newspaper. I rated little more than the occasional glance down the nose, but when I see her now – we chat and she is genuinely kind. At my last high school reunion, I got a fair number of double takes and saw the stare/huddle whisper thing as another set of former queen bees figured out who I was. It’s sorta amusing now.

      I think FB does allow people the ability to have safe distance “friendships” with people they wouldn’t otherwise. And that’s okay because it allows others to see us as people and not the labels that got assigned to us long ago. They see we have spouses, children, family and friends who love us and think we are “all that”. It’s enlightening.

      I’m sorry that you still run into hostility. I don’t understand it all. Love and marriage are beautiful things and there should be no limits or judging.

  2. I moved around the country a lot before settling in California when I was 9, so I don’t have any childhood friends. (Although I did recently find my best friend from second grade on Facebook, which was pretty cool.) My longest-term friends are from the job I had during college – I’ve known them for 19 and 17 years respectively, and we’re pretty good about keeping in touch through e-mail/Facebook and meeting up in person once or twice a year. But I don’t have a circle of friends or a group of “girlfriends” the way a lot of women do – my friendships tend to be one-on-one, and as often with men as with other women.

    1. I have some long friendships, but they are not as constant as the ones in the book. My high school/college friends and I can go long times without contact, but we always seem able to pick up where we left off. I guess that is what makes us special as opposed to people we used to know.

  3. this is hard for me to answer… i ‘belong’ to many groups, including a collection of friends from my childhood. theater people, work people, a few friends from university, family connections. i can’t say one group is closest to “me” over any other. in fact, although i have a broad network, and many consider me a good friend? i have a very small number of close associates. very small.

    i don’t feel i completely belong with any particular collection – and take some comfort maintaining a degree of detachment as i move amongst the groups… not staying in any one place too long, or becoming dependent…

    perhaps the strangest thing i’ve recently realized is that the people i’ve connected to via the blogosphere probably know me better than many people who interact with me in person on a regular basis. i bare insights to myself out here that do not get revealed otherwise. weird…

  4. Most of my friends are Internet friends. I lost touch with most of my school friends when I stopped being a student; I’ve lost touch with most other friends I had when I moved, for geography and convenience purposes; and now, I don’t get around to places where making friends is very possible.

    Interesting topic. I might address it on my blog too. Thanks for the idea. 🙂

    1. Yeah, the moving thing and the grown-up stuff isn’t conducive to forming lasting friendships. I too have more virtual friends and many of the friends I made in life have become virtual because of distances.

  5. There are a few guys back in Ohio I met when I was 15 that I still speak to, but I hardly ever see them because they’re 500 miles away. I’ve got a couple friends back in New York City that I see every so often. And since moving to New Jersey eight years ago, I’ve made a few acquaintances but not one friend. Nobody has the time. We are involved with family and kids and such. One of my big regrets in life is that I never really had that many friends.

    1. My friends shift but there is a core that comes in and out. Interestingly, I have made more friends via the Internet than I ever made in person. I don’t think says good things about me as a person though.

      It’s harder to make friends once you leave school. Friendships grow out of proximity and constant interaction more than anything else. In the five schools I taught in I have only a handful of friends to show for it – that’s if you count people I keep in touch with. I have lots of people I am friendly with but I don’t know that it counts as friendship.

  6. Well…. being only 30, I suppose my life long friendships are shorter then this book…. however I still have friends from high school… actually, a group of us ladies that hung out in high school all still meet up every 1-2 months for dinner. I would fair to say that none of us are BEST friends, but close, yes. I actually just went to a baby shower of a woman I’ve know off and on for over 20 years.

    I have two other friends, who I visit with almost daily, if not then weekly… One of these two, our friendship has varied over time but we know it was due to circumstances in our own personal lives…. we are both ok with it and we have an amazing friendship now 🙂

    In the past few months, its funny, two of the girls from our high school group have commented to me (in private) that they don’t have best friends like I do… That they were a tad jealous and unsure of how to have a friendship like that. I told them that best friends is a term I use widely the older I get. I prefer to think I have 2 types of friends: life long and like minded 🙂 I consider all of them my close friends and I will do what is with in my power to help them or be there for them IF I can be. I also told them that just because life gets in the way and we’re busy at times, doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about anyone, it just means that I understand we all have our own lives and families now, and our families come first. Always.

    Something my ma said to me when I was younger has stuck with me as well… “In your life, the ones who will stand by your side will be your family, not your friends.” In this there was some truth I do believe. My family has and will always be there for me (learning this through Ryan’s passing)… even Ryan’s family has vowed to be there for me (and still are even during my new marriage). Yes, my friends were there for me but not in the same way that I feel my family was….

    All in all, I suppose I would like to believe that I do have friends that can stick around for a life time but it takes work, just like any relationship. I will also always put my family first in regards to friends. As long as my friends and I are on the same page about these two beliefs, then they are more then welcome to remain in my life for as long as we can all manage 🙂 Hell, for my birthday dinner last Saturday, I had 26 people show up! Secretly I was pleasantly surprised that yes, I do have friends that care about me as much as I care for them 🙂

    1. In the book it mentions that women who are still friends at age 40 will likely remain so all their lives. My mom has friends like that. Women she has known for more than fifty years. My sister, DNOS, has friends like that too, and so did my Dad. He had friends that went back to his childhood.

      I tend to think the same as your mom about family vs friends. Even some of my dearest friends weren’t really there for me during my late husband’s illness and I have quietly ended a couple friendships over that although I forgave others.

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