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It's Our Turn: Friendships are golden

Tracy Vlaminck, Trena Eller and Celeste Edenloff have been friends since junior high. This photo was taken in 2012 when Vlaminck and Eller, who both live in Willmar, visited Edenloff at her home in Alexandria. (Contributed)

Friendships. I have had plenty in my nearly 46 years on this planet. But there are two I treasure the most.

And after interviewing a group of guys who have been getting together every year for the past 40 years for a story in today's paper, it made me realize even more how important those two friendships are.

I first met Tracy in seventh grade. We became fast friends and were inseparable. If I wasn't at her house, she was at mine. We even bought our first pair of Guess jeans, which were THEE name brand jean back them, together. If my memory serves me correctly, we each paid $21 or $22 for them and then we passed them back and forth each week. We were so proud of those jeans. And we wore them until they were full of holes.

Nearly every Friday or Saturday night, you could find Tracy and I at the roller rink in Willmar, the town we grew up in. And that is where Trena comes in. Trena moved to Willmar from Kerkhoven in eighth grade and the three of us became inseparable. We pretty much lived at the roller rink.

If only Fitbits were around then. I would love to know how many miles we put on our wheels going round and round that rink. We had so much fun. We laughed, we cried, we got in trouble. (OK, I was the one who almost always got in trouble. Darn boys!)

I remember the ONE time the three of us skipped school together. And I know both Trena and Tracy remember, too, because my mom, who of course found out about it, called their moms to let them know. Guess who ended up getting grounded. Yep, me. Not them.

We still bring up that story nearly every time we get together. My mom was one tough cookie, so much tougher than their moms. I hate to admit the nickname we gave her, "Hitler," but we were childish teenagers. My mom loved Trena and Tracy like they were her own.

Throughout our junior high and senior high years, we all survived the boys and the heartaches, the cattiness of other girls, the peer pressure, the few spats we had and some difficult and emotional times. I drifted apart from them when I had a serious boyfriend, but they never made me feel like I wasn't part of the group. They were always there for me. Always.

After graduation, we went our separate ways. There were marriages, divorces (yes, that is plural), births and/or adoption of our children.

Once we all seemed settled in our lives, we would get together a couple times a year, whether it was for a shopping trip, an outing to the roller rink, going out to eat or just hanging out. We made time for each other. And whether it had been six months or two years since we last saw each other, we would always pick up right where we left off.

There's never any awkwardness or resentment for not being able to meet. Instead, there are hugs and laughter and yes, sometimes tears. The three of us have been through so much together and no matter what, are always there for each other. Although I will admit, there were times I should have been there and I wasn't. And although I feel horrible for it and wouldn't blame them for being mad at me, they never were.

Over the years, no matter what, we have always stayed connected, whether through Facebook or text messages. And this Friday, we are finally having one of our get-togethers. Tracy, Trena and I are getting together for a good ol' fashioned 80s-style sleepover complete with pizza and cheesy romantic, make-your-eyes-roll 80s chick-flicks and I can't wait.

Just like the lyrics from a children's song say, "Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver, the other gold," I will keep making new friends, but I will definitely keep these two because they truly are gold and I treasure their friendships more than they will ever know.

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It's Our Turn is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in nearly 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

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