Tuesday, November 7, 2017

40 year friendiversary aka road trip down the west coast with three killer people and two brilliant dogs

It all started at Dupre Elementary, Lubbock, Texas, 1977.
My mom, our dog Permella, and I had just moved so that my mom could go to graduate school at Texas Tech.  We didn't know a soul.  But the first day of first grade would change all that.

My mom and I didn't remember this but one night over dinner a few weeks ago my best friend's dad reminded us that our meet-cute happened in the hallway on that first day of school when we were all in search of Mrs. Wages' classroom.
I actually don't really remember my life without them.  I shared a bit about it here.  But for those of you who have not read my blog obsessively (what?!?!?!) here's how it goes:
Kim and I became instant friends that six year old year.
I look back and the gratitude I feel is overwhelming but when you're six stuff is just happening and you don't really stop to think "wow, this is pretty cool!"

My parents divorced when I was almost four. Instead of crumbling, my mom, all of 25 years old, put her big girl pants on and finished college.  And then, because she possessed some kind of drive that I will forever be in awe of,  decided to pack up her almost six year old kid and her dog and head off to graduate school.  She started school.  I started school.   

After recognizing at age six that we were destined to be lifelong friends, we pulled the rest of the family in along for the ride!  Before we knew what was happening everything just became intertwined.  Together they applied for and got us into an innovative new school in Lubbock.  Tina (Kim's mom) took us to school every day, my mom picked us up every day.  My mom made our lunches for a week, Tina made our lunches for two weeks.  She had two kids - hence, two weeks - there was Kim and her little sister Natalie.  The three of us endured years and years and years of canned vienna sausages, peanut butter, mayonnaise, and lettuce sandwiches, pimento cheese (newsflash: kids don't like pimentos.  much less in grated cheese and mayo.  what's with all the mayo?!?), and whole wheat carob chip cookies!  Tina typed my mom's college papers for her including her final thesis.  I stayed with them when my mom went out of town and they stayed with us when their parents were out of town.  We went to summer camp together, we put on "show" after "show" selling the desserts Tina baked back to our parents for our "concession stand".  Our moms started a holiday baking day that is still running to this day!  The three of us played school so often that we were convinced that Natalie would eventually graduate early because of the amazing education she was receiving from the two to one teacher:student ratio.  And she totally did!!!  And I believe with my whole heart that it was 100% due the back and forth arguing over whose turn it was to be teacher next - always Kim and me by the way.  
They were my best. Best. BEST friends.
And then we moved.

My mom got a job as a speech pathologist near Austin and so in the 7th grade we moved. 
There is a moment I will never forget.  I can still see it, hear it, feel it.  The moving truck in front of our cute little house.  Lloyd (Kim and Nat's dad) and I in the front yard.  He picked me up and hugged me and his big, deep voice cracked and he whispered in my ear "I'm losing my third daughter."  
But pretty soon I learned that the good thing about our parents being as attached to us as we were to each other meant that they would bend over backwards to make sure that we never fell out of touch.  We took turns flying back and forth, each parent covering one leg of the trip.  We made it out for birthdays and summer vacations.  It proved to be just one more example of how incredible our parents were.  They fought hard to keep us intact.  And eventually Kim would move to Austin.  And then Tina and Lloyd.  And then Natalie (for a little while).

And now its been 40 years!!!  I actually do not know how that happened.  One day we were like 14 and then all of the sudden we were 40 something.  I don't know why I said 40 something.  I just told you the year and that it's been 40 years.  Pretty sure y'all are all math geniuses.  

A couple of years ago, when my Dad was sick, Kim offered to drive with me to visit him.  We had the most amazing time!!!  We drove from Austin to Santa Fe with a pit stop in Lubbock.  I could write an epic post just about that trip...and I need to.  But since its 2:30am and I just spent 20min buzz-linting my wool robe in heavy avoidance/denial...I think I'm gonna save that for another day!
But my point is that we had The. Best. Time. just driving together.  Just being in the car, listening to music, talking, laughing, crying.  So when I realized that we have been friends for 40 years I immediately thought - ROAD TRIP!

We had so much fun on the last trip that we just wanted to recreate it nearly exactly!  Santa Fe, stop in Lubbock for a little Orlando's pizza, wake up and head to Pasqual's for coffee, toodle around the square...you know!  But Natalie (who I'm pretty certain is still trying to make up for not getting her way much when she was little) said what about a trip down the west coast?!?!  Start in Portland and end in San Francisco?  OKAY!!!!!

And off we went!!!

Natalie's best friend Dean, Kim's dog Georgia, and my sweet babe The Business Man all came along for the ride.  We began by getting tattooed in Portland my the amazing Kirsten Holliday and then began the driving, the laughter, the tears, car singing, hikes, the wine, the rock hounding (Natalie!), the wine, the cards, a wee bit of sarcasm and a whole lot of opinions, some wrong turns that turned into right turns - we decided that going the wrong way was our thing...the ocean, the redwoods, the planned and the unplanned...getting to see "Cabot Cove" which nearly caused me to have a come-apart...
*me and my paparazzi in front of JB Fletcher's house*

...so much of it felt just like when we were kids...there was lots of love and we can in fact still argue like when we were kids.  And it's only your truly great friends that you are ever brave enough to argue with.  So that was oddly comforting.

*Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach*

 *Secrets Beach - and four hours of rock hounding in which Nat looked at each individual rock on the entire beach*
 *The Business Man on Secrets Beach with the rocks he hounded*
 *Natalie, Georgia, and Kim on Agate Beach*
 *Dean, The Business Man and me in Klamath, California*

*inside of a single tree in the Redwoods along Avenue of the Giants.  We were in a tree.  Like inside of it.  In the trunk of a tree.  How can three people and a dog be inside of a tree trunk?!*

As the end of the trip neared I started to get a little sad.  This uninterrupted time with people who know my ins and outs is invaluable.  I don't think I realized how "on" I am a lot of the time.  But when you're with your people and you can just be...it's restoring.  It was a week I will never forget.  

When I got home I immediately made bangles with song lyrics from our trip.  Nat documented a bit of our car singing on Instagram but I needed a way to keep this trip with me always.  And they are such good lyrics that I decided to offer them up in my shop!  So you can go snag your very own.

A little Maria McKee, some James Taylor of course! since he was the soundtrack of our childhood and we've seen him together live three times...
quick funny story - the three of us were in a little shop in Santa Fe in the early 90's and Nat and I were both wearing JT concert t-shirts.  The owner of the shop came up to us and said she was friends with James and how cool it was that we were so young and were fans.  She grabbed a post card from her shop and told us that if we'd write him a note she would get it to him!  So cool.
...and then there is Olivia Newton John (another childhood beloved) and Gene Kelly because hello! Xanadu!  Beyonce - because we listened to AND watched Lemonade in the car.  Some Kesha (who knew I liked Kesha?!?!?  I'm more shocked than you I promise!)  Ride or Die.  Because...well, RIDE OR DIE!  And lastly, the song that sparked all the debate - River by Joni Mitchell.  Kim and Natalie are of the belief that the Indigo Girls version is the best but I am of the correct opinion that there is actually no debate needed and Joni Mitchell sang it best.  period.  the end.

But it's not the end.  It'll never be the end with friends you've had forever.