My friend Stacey, whom I have been friends with since 9th grade, claims she doesn’t remember much of our early friendship. That’s OK because I do. What is important is she knows how much I value her as a friend and confidante. At least, I hope she does. This post will help remind her.
Here’s what Stacey says she remembers from our early days: sitting next to me in high school chorus and going with me to the New Kids On The Block concert, the one in 1990 in Saratoga, NY, where Donnie Wahlberg fell through the trap door in the stage. Stacey graduated high school a year after I did and then attended the same college as me for the next four years. I graduated with my Masters the same year she completed her Bachelor degree. After school, we lived as roommates for a year, then she stayed with me on and off as she completed her own Masters, found her first job, and then relocated back to the area.
Stacey is a passionate educator who loves learning and sharing the joy of reading with others. She is a dedicated mother figure to many, not just her own twin daughters. Her younger brothers and sisters rely on her strength and guidance. Stacey is a loyal and trustworthy friend who can keep confidences without judgement. She loves Disney movies, a good cookie and cards and board games. We spent many Saturday nights in our younger days in some serious battles over Skip-bo.
In college Stacey was always up for adventure, provided it didn’t interfere with getting schoolwork done. We had season tickets to our local AHL hockey team for a couple of years. Not wanting to miss home games due to school work, we would bring our textbooks or assignments to the arena and spend intermissions with our noses in books. This became crucial as the team went into the playoff season while we were facing finals. Being the avid (crazy?!) fans we were, we decided at the spur of the moment to hop in my car and drive from Albany to Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada for the 4th and potentially last game in the Calder Cup Finals between the Albany River Rats and the Canadiens. 13 hours in a car. Without tickets.
We found the arena on the University of New Brunswick campus and purchased the last 2 wheelchair accessible seats as they began to play the “Star Spangled Banner.” We were in our seats, just seven rows from the ice on the Albany blue line, by the time they finished “O, Canada!” There were a few Albany fans – mostly the Booster Club who had traveled up to the game on a bus. My brother-in-law recorded the television broadcast of the game for us and you can clearly hear Stacey and I cheering and yelling over the crowd when Albany made a good play or we felt the refs made a bad call. When Albany won the game, sweeping the series to win the championships, we followed the wave of Rats fans to the celebration at a local hotel. It was a holiday weekend and we didn’t have reservations. We smiled at the desk clerk, assuring him we were with the Booster Club to hopefully get a reduction in the price while praying we had enough money between the two of us to cover the room which was listed on the rate sheet at $175.
The next morning we awoke to the reality of another 13 hours in the car and the uncertainty of the final bill. We were dumbfounded when we looked at the bill and saw a total of $62 – Canadian! For two poor college kids, this was the best news. We packed our bags in the car and headed out with one extra item – the hockey stick used in the third period by Pascal Rheaume, one of the Albany players. We happily declared it at the border crossing to a clearly unimpressed customs worker.
These days, Stacey and I are theater buddies. We have exchanged our hockey season tickets for tickets for the Broadway tours at a local theater. Together we’ve gone to Oz with Wicked, South Pacific, Avenue Q, Rent, Sister Act, Jersey Boys, and so many more. We still spend intermission reading, but now we study our programs and learn about the actors and actresses. Thankfully there’s no quiz!
Stacey – thank you for always reminding me how important it is to make time for fun. I know I can always rely on you for advice or a shoulder to lean on. Even though I pick on you about your memory, it really doesn’t matter to me if you don’t remember our early days. All that matters is you remember how much I value the gift of your friendship and affection now.