Number One

by

This post does not really count as my daily blog post.

I was asked to contribute to a blog about women in their 40s.

I sent my first piece and she has asked me to contribute again.

Here, then is the piece I finished earlier today, which will come out in a few weeks on her blog 40s Represented:

 

What Was When

 

When we thought we would be best friends forever.

When we thought no other person, place, thing, or attitude could stand in our way.

When we were tied at the hip and our boyfriends begrudgingly made friends with each other, as there were no way we would choose a boyfriend over a friend.

Well, unless the sex was really good.

But even then, even then, it seemed that we would be together, forever, the four of us, always.

There was the time we realized that soon we would be heading away from each other, one to law school, one to graduate school, one to nursing school, one to get her Bachelor’s degree.  We did mushrooms as a ritual to bind ourselves to each other.  Our own little blood sister ceremony, except with psychedelics instead of actual blood.

We were inseparable.

That is what it felt like.

However, feelings are not facts, and the separation occurred and the boyfriends became husbands and the hobbies and jobs became careers and she graduated from law school, and she got her Masters, and she went to nursing school, and she lost her marbles and moved out West.

“Pusher, juice lady, pusher,” my friends gave me shit, I had mixed the mushrooms with frozen orange juice, ice, sugar, and champagne (mushrooms do not taste good on their own)

They gave me shit about a lot of things.

And they were always honest with me, pointing out foibles I would not have stood from other people.

“You’ve never had girlfriends, have you,” my best friend asked me one day after a long shift at the restaurant we all had met at, became friends at, became partners in crime, agents in arms, bestest girlfriends, ever, ever, and forever, amen.

“What are you talking about?” I asked my girlfriend and knocked back another swig of the Warsteiner she had poured into a frosted half liter glass mug and spiked with lemonade, a German summer drink called a Radler.

It was hot, the A/C was off for the evening, there was no one left in the beer hall and we were in the bier garden with our feet up on the benches, hanging out, talking smack, being girlfriends.

“Honey, you told B. that she had a ‘mom cut’ when she asked how you liked her new hair cut,” my friend said, “and she does, but you don’t say that to a friend.”

“It’s a total mom cut,” I said in defense, “why should I lie?”

“Because you hurt her feelings,” my friend said, “you don’t have girlfriends do you?

“Nope,” I said, and lit a cigarette.

I generally got a long much better with guys, they were easy to understand and I knew where I stood with them.  Women, however, strange nebulous creatures with emotions and make up and brunches, and family goals; nope, I did not have girlfriends.

Then, I took a risk, I took the risk that would be one of the biggest pay offs in my life, I said, “Would you be my friend?”

And she said yes.

She is still my friend today.

Despite being thousands of miles away, married, in a successful career, with three boys, and a home in a small scenic town on the Wisconsin, Minnesota border, we are still best friends.

Life happens.

Careers change.

People move.

Friends do horrible things to each other.

“You talked to me about the guy you fucked last night,” she said to me, tears standing bright in her eyes, “do you remember that?  Do you?”

We were at the airport and I was leaving, I was leaving after a disastrous 32-birthday weekend.  My friends had done an intervention on me.

“I was telling you about the baby I miscarried, and you were too wrapped up in your story of the guy you met in the bar,” tears overflowed, soft, slow, a dripping line of salt that corroded my heart, leaving me scarred by her hurt.

 

“I am sorry,” I said.

“I am done with you, I really am, they are trying to convince me, but I am done,” she finished.

I had contact with her once more, about a month later; she sent me magazines, a carton of cigarettes, and the novel Bridget Jones’s Diary.  She wished me luck, we chatted on the phone and then no more.

Eight years later I wondered where we had gotten to, what had happened, when, and who were we now.

Our collected group, smashed brains shrooming on the front porch of my house in the soft blooming July night so many years ago, declaring we would always be friends, to the end, to the death.

Forever.

But forever is a story that we tell ourselves before life intervenes and parents die, babies are born, and lovers ask to be partners ask to move away, careers burgeon, and houses are bought; the feeling though, at 40 is still there.

I cherish that time.

I don’t want to go back to it, but I am grateful for the time I got to have those women in my life.  They taught me the rudiments of friendship and I still look for those stalwart values in my current set of friends.

Not nostalgia so much as an honoring of those times and those memories and the seeds of friendship that were planted in my garden of female friends.

Sometimes a flower dies and you think, that was going to be a fixture in my garden forever, but you mulch it, and take the experience of it, and the memory of it, and use that to plant new seeds, new flowers, new friends.

I would not be who I am without those first girlfriends.

 

What happen is not a mystery, not shrouded in some gauzy film of noir, no, what happened was life.

 

No big secret there.

I honor those women, though, I always will.

They were in my thoughts as I traipsed about the cobbled streets of Paris on my 40th birthday and had lunch with a new girlfriend at a bistro in the Opera neighborhood and later at a café in the Montmartre with another new girlfriend.

“I am taking us all to Paris!”  I exclaimed, “For my 40th, we are all going to Paris.”

They did come with me, just not in the way I expected.

 

 

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