Tuesday, August 25, 2009


The highlight of my trip last week was visiting my friend Madison in Portland. We've been friends since we were two, when our families were next door neighbors in San Pedro. Our twenty-something parents would throw the kids together while they hung out. Or the moms would get together to macrame or take us to the mall for shopping trips that would result in one wooden spoon. Money was tight but those were good days.

After a couple years, Madison's family moved to Long Beach. We had already experienced ups and downs in the way girls often do. We were frienemies . . . she cried too much in my opinion and I tended to be a little moody (still true). She moved away, and we officially became best friends. And then a miracle occurred: my parents bought the house next to theirs in Long Beach.

We became neighbors again at the end of kindergarten. It was awesome. We played dolls and barbies on the lawns in front of our houses, walked to school together until she became an Early Bird and I was made a Late Bird (how did they know?), and ran around with Daryl and Gerald, the crazy brothers from across the street. I told her that Santa wasn't real in kindergarten, which of course led to a huge fight then Madison crying and running to her mama. I instructed her on using soap to clean her private parts, which also led to Madison crying and calling for her mama. You get the picture.

But then she moved to Norcal and I moved overseas. We were devoted bff's and saw each other every summer. I would always wonder if we would still like each other, but we always clicked. We were on the same wavelength . . . showing up in the same navy pedal-pushers (cropped pants in 1983), randomly breaking into the same song at the same time (I don't normally sing around people), and going through the same phases.

I wish I had pictures of the Depeche Mode-Morrissey phase, around 9th grade I think. Or maybe I don't. When she visited that year, there was a lot of curling iron action followed by a healthy dose of hairspray, purple eye shadow, maybe some teal mascara, lots of black clothing, and to complete the look - but not until we left the house - menthol cigarettes. We would go to places like Knott's Berry Farm at night (dropped off by mom) and walk around, surveying the hot nightclubs (there were two) then dancing with boys who were competitive in the hairspray department. Sweet.

We lost touch in our early 20s, after a visit in San Francisco when it was clear we were going in different directions. Madison would call them her uptight years. Years later, she called on my wedding day when she was living in Ireland. It meant a lot but we didn't really get back in touch. We got together in Portland a few years ago and finally, I had my friend back.

Our same things now include . . . .wait for it . . . our dogs have the same name, her only niece shares a name with one of my daughters, and she's lactose intolerant like Violet. I know, you're literally blown away right now, but you have to understand I became obsessed with non-dairy cooking and dining for a while, and at the exact same time, Madison found out she was also dairy intolerant. She was the only one who didn't change the subject after a couple minutes. She even uses the same vegan butter.

And she doesn't really cry that much any more. Just the laughing kind of cry when we're up late telling stories and a little when we say goodbye.