Friday, December 26, 2008

My Val-Pal

Submitted by: Michelle

In 1991 I began my teaching career at Northview High School in Covina. Little did I know that one of my students would end up being a front row friend in the years to come.

I first met Valarie in September of 1994. She was a shy and quiet student in my freshmen honors English class. I instantly liked her. She had excellent work habits (something a teacher always enjoys in a student) and was a fantastic writer. Valarie quickly became one of my favorites though I tried not to let it show since teachers aren't supposed to have favorites, right? She often sought me out for advice, usually in letter form. She'd write me a lengthy note on ruled notebook paper and then I'd write her one back. I still have all the letters she has ever written me, sorted by year and tied with pretty ribbons. There is something about a handwritten letter that means so much, especially when written by someone who looks up to you and isn't afraid to tell you so.

Valarie, or Val Pal as I like to call her, and I kept in close contact throughout her high school years. The summer after she graduated from high school I got married. I only invited 2 students to my wedding and Valarie was one of them. I love the photo of us below and have it in my wedding album because it meant so much to me that she shared in one of my most special days.

Me and Val
June 27, 1998

Even after she went to college, we kept up our pen-pal friendship. I would send her care packages at Boston University and she would write me long letters and e-mails, letting me know the details of college life. She ended up transferring from BU to Cal State Los Angeles and unfortunately, we became disconnected. She was busy with her schooling and her boyfriend (who would end up becoming her husband!) and I was busy moving to the desert and becoming a kindergarten goddess...I mean teacher.

Fortunately Valarie, like me, possesses the "never let a good friend go" gene. I've always been one to hold on to friends for life. I write letters (mostly e-mails now), I take trips to visit people who live far away, and I especially value those with whom I have a long history. I've known my good friend Julia since the 3rd grade and I'm going to visit my high school friend Leslie next week!

Over the years since Valarie was in college, she has refused to let our friendship dissolve and I am so glad! She makes trips to visit me, she e-mails me and whenever I am in Claremont visiting Linda, she makes time in her schedule to see me. And now that I've turned her into a Stampin' Up junkie, we share that too!!! Over this past year we have spent more and more time together and I've enjoyed every moment. Just last week we took an impromptu trip to West LA to visit T Salon (see blog entry dated December 2) and then had a late lunch at one of my favorite Pasadena restaurants, Houston's. The photo below was taken there.

Me and Val
December 21, 2008

The evolution of a friendship is such an interesting thing. Now that Valarie and I are both grown up people, I am finding that she and I are quite alike, particularly when it comes to having empathy for others. And looking back over her letters before writing this entry, I am reminded again of her outstanding wit, intelligence and loyalty as a friend.

I value friendships so much -- they are what keep me going day in and day out -- and I am so glad that one of my front row seats has been unexpectedly filled by Valarie.

No comments: