Small Town, Big Friendships

If I were to take all the pictures of my friends and lie them
out in chronological order, it would be a time line, a progression.
The first stack of pictures would be a bunch of rambunctious
preschoolers playing

red light, green light

at the old roller skating arena.
If I were to take all the pictures of my friends and lie them out in chronological order, it would be a time line, a progression. The first stack of pictures would be a bunch of rambunctious preschoolers playing “red light, green light” at the old roller skating arena.

The next stack would be filled with crazy teenagers sporting graduation hats, flowered leis and punching beach balls into the air. Eventually, the pictures would be filled with the faces of ambitious 24-year-olds who are now taking on the world in Arizona, New York, San Francisco, San Diego and all over.

After graduating from Gilroy High School in 1999, my friends and I went our separate ways. Some went off to college while others started working right away. All of us made new friends. We went on with our lives, having babies, getting married and earning promotions, but one thing still remains: Whether there is good news or bad news to be shared, the crew of former Brownell Bulldogs, El Roble Owls and Saint Mary’s Saints will drop what they’re doing, head home to Gilroy and celebrate or offer support.

We’ll come together again tonight to support our friend Lisa Jammal’s mom, Evelyn Brokaw, as she holds a Breast Cancer Gala Benefit at Ridgemark Golf Course in Hollister to raise money for the Susan B. Komen Foundation. Watching Lisa’s mom battle breast cancer gave us all a glimpse into the stress and struggle caused by a potentially terminal disease.

This is the beauty of growing up in a small town. College friends and colleagues will come and go, but your friends from home will always be at your side, and most of the time, their core values and personalities remain the same.

When my friends and I were growing up, we didn’t have a Great America right down the freeway or a big mall where we could hang out. We created our own fun, spending all week planning a New Year’s Eve sleepover or toilet-papering adventure. Then there were the senior crown-making parties, when we’d gather more than 100 cardboard crowns from Burger King and, with glitter, puff paint and pipe cleaners, turn them into our own personalized works of art.

These memories and common bonds are what kept and will continue to keep us united through the years.

My friends certainly aren’t the only people in Gilroy who share long-lasting friendships replete with tradition. On the day after Thanksgiving, while munching on leftover turkey and apple pie, a number of Gilroy residents of all ages head to Gilroy Bowl in downtown Gilroy for drinks, food and karaoke. Some are home from college, and others have made this town their home.

“Whoa! I haven’t seen you forever!” can be heard throughout the bar area. It’s like Gilroy’s own version of “Cheers.”

I have always known I was blessed to have such great friends, and it couldn’t have been more true when I left to go to college. My roommates couldn’t understood why I was so eager to get home for the Garlic Festival or why spending Christmas break in Gilroy was such a blast. I even planned when I was going to quit my job last summer so I’d be home in time for the festival.

There is something unique about Gilroy. No matter if you’re rich or poor, tall or short, charming or boring – when you leave the borders of this garlic-spiked town, you realize the world is big and crazy. And when you find another Gilroyan amid the craziness, that familiar sense of home and comfort is never far.

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