She had paint splatters on her wall. Paint splatters and a Garfield© phone. I thought that was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. Remember when there was an option with your phone lines to get individual numbers so that each person had a distinctive ring? She had that. I still remember the number. The family dog was a dalmation – a purebred. I was dazzled.
I’d always had friends, that was nothing new. Here in the Bible Belt you grow up in a church with a group of people — those people are your friends. It’s just a given. But this, this was different. This was a friend that I chose before I thought I was supposed to choose my own friends. She didn’t go to church with me, and amazingly enough the gates of hell did not threaten to swallow her household on Sunday morning. Not only was I a daredevil, I was a maverick.
She made me watch the X-Files on VHS, over and over, knowing that it scared the piss out of me. Her mother was into health food and we made brown rice and chicken for after-school snacks…but when her mom wasn’t lookingwe’d devour whole boxes of fat free cookies. We made huge messes. Huge. Once we made a JellO No Bake Cheesecake, and in some twisted “Upside down thick/JellO stays in the same place” confusion, it ended up on the kitchen floor. It was still good.
I’d never ridden a go-cart. Somewhere on video she has my first ride. We borrowed clothes and mine always looked better on her. When we started wearing makeup she always did mine for me if it was important.
We got drivers’ licenses together, went on dates. Went to band camp and shared crushes. Limopooled to the prom.
College. We grew apart. I missed her. She was in music, I was in English. Different circles of friends.
I married. She wore a flower at the wedding and I felt like I hadn’t seen her in years.
He proposed to her. I didn’t like him, he told her what to wear and where not to go. I made it to the wedding and sat on the edge of the crowd. She looked beautiful, he looked handsome.
She moved away. I mourned the friendship that had been part of my identity. I got second and third-hand updates.
One day, an errant email crossed my inbox and I thought of her. I sent it to her, an old address that I figured probably didn’t work. Within a few hours I had a response. She was home. Left him. She was true to herself as I’d always known she would be.
She moved into our spare room. I had my friend back and she was rebuilding her life. I liked the next guy. He fit. He loved her. I stood nine months pregnant in heels for her June wedding, proud of what she’d become.
Moved away again, this time closer. I stood with my second child wrapped to my chest as her first was born. I look back now on what we’ve accomplished. Together. Apart.
I’m so thankful.