To my life long friend, on her 50th Birthday.
Happy Birthday, you old bag. And you are old – half a freaking century. Really and truly old. An AARP card member, who needs to use her cheater glasses to order off the senior menu at McDonald’s. An old bag with a full-blown case of CRS disease (Can’t Remember Shit) and a body that is down spiraling to the point where it can’t even regulate its own body temperature. Can wandering the grocery store aisles muttering to yourself while farting out loud be very far around the corner?
I wanted to think of some kind of fantastic gift to honor your half century mark. A box of Depends. A bottle of Geritol. A jar of dirt, of which you would be older than. But nothing seemed quite funny enough or special enough or unique enough. You deserve a parade or a jewel encrusted crown. A date with Superman. Or Spock.
I mean, you and I have been friends longer than I have been with Dave. And everyone knows we started dating as infants.
37 years ago, you literally showed up on my doorstep and asked if I wanted to be friends. Who knew that when my family moved out in the sticks, on some country road in a house in the woods, that there would have been anyone my age within walking distance. Much less someone as perfect for me as you.
I got my first stitches with you. Do you remember that? I was trying to impress you and Susie Lietz with my bike riding skills (of which I obviously had none), and wiped out on a stick that poked a small hole in my leg. “Oh, stitches don’t hurt,” you said. Assured me of it, even as we were riding the elevator in the hospital with my mom, who also didn’t say ANYTHING. Afterwards, the pain of the anesthetic needle still pretty fresh in my mind, I believe I accused you of lying. You promptly replied that you didn’t lie – the stitches themselves didn’t hurt, did they? Such logic from someone who didn’t even know who Spock was yet. Afterwards, we went to your house and stayed overnight in a tent in your backyard. I can still smell the canvas of the tent, hear our giggles, and see the sun shining thru it the next morning. It’s a favorite memory, and while I now can’t remember where my phone is or where the frick in the parking lot I left my car, I will never forget it.
It was the first of many summer nights spent sleeping outside, and many summer days, wandering around the cow fields or down by the falls with Jack and Ragnar. Trying to explain to my sister that calling you “Lips” was not derogatory, or arguing with your sister Joan or my brother Joe, (OMG they just didn’t GET IT!). Sneaking cigarettes from your dad and getting drunk on TJ Swan wine in the cow pasture (thank you, Lori Lewis’s sister – wherever you are). I remember telling you my deepest secret – that I had a crush on Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise and you laughed your ass off at me but you didn’t blab it to anyone. A true best friend.
In between poking at cow shit and climbing trees, we grew up. Got married. Moved away. We had very different lives after high school, achieving opposite goals. You had a career, and I was a stay at home mom. You got your masters and a job in your field, and I got an associate degree that I have never used other than for resume decoration. We both experienced wonderful joys and suffered great loss – divorce, illness, death, birth, graduation, marriage, love – and it wasn’t always easy to be there for each other. Somehow though, that core of friendship that began all those years ago on my doorstep has kept drawing us back together like a magnet to a refrigerator door. How’s that for a cheesy analogy?
All cheese aside, did I ever tell you how much I look up to you? How your tenacious spirit and ability to visualize what you want has inspired me? How in awe I was that my best friend had the guts to move all the way to freaking Albuquerque, NM, all by herself, and NOT take a left turn? How strong I learned you were when you went thru your divorce, and how happy I was for you when you married Tom? How proud I was of you when you completed your first triathlon? How important it is that my kids and Dave not only know you, but also know how important you are in my life? You have continually strived to always move forward, better yourself, try new things, step outside the box. And even though you are an old bag, you are also my hero.
So, here we are, 37 years later, and now you’re an old bag and I’m almost an old bag. We survived boys with powerful biceps, getting our periods at exactly the wrong time (or exactly the RIGHT time), Cobbly Knobs, gator infested waters, getting french kissed by the best man, 14 mile hikes up the sides of mountains, cock-a-roaches, and parties with the Preble boys. God above only knows if the next 37 years will be as interesting and fun, or if we will even have another 37 years, but one thing I am sure of. He put us together, and He’s the only one that will be able to take us apart.
Live long and prosper – I have been, and always shall be…your friend.
And now, a short walk down memory lane…