Best Friends Forever---When yesteryear comes for a visit!
What a bitter sweet day today is going to be. My girlfriend is leaving to go back home. It sounds so ridiculous saying 'girlfriend' coming from a fifty-six year old but then there is no other way of saying a kettle is a kettle when it's a kettle. We were friends when we were girls---as far as that goes we're still the same gender (just older) and we're still friends too, so I guess that would technically speaking still make us 'girlfriends'.
Tressa showed up at my door for a surprise visit three weeks ago. She, her hubby and two children have been living in California since 1979. Her last 'baby' just got married in June and her house is echoing with empty-ness. Her hubby (sweety that he is) on the sly and without her knowledge arranged for her to have a month off work and bought her a plane ticket to come home to Ontario. (hmmm, I never checked if there was a return fare attached to it haha).
Three weeks ago Friday, on the day of her arrival, as usual I was running late. I always seem to pile too much into my days, never thinking that inevitably Mr Murphy will visit. He is a frequent visitor and yesterday, Thursday, he had thrown a downed fencepost into my way. For some reason this post had moved itself over-top of a new rock formation and now after digging and digging and more digging it now lives three feet over in the zig of the zag part of the fence. (I'm doing it again, going off on one of my famous tangents... but don't you just find it amazing, that a wooden post which has been in that same spot in the ground for years now all of a sudden, when we're in a heat wave of two thousand degrees in the shade, and you dig around at it's base you find that this massive boulder moved in underground without a 'by-your-leave' and all--- enough of this) back to my 'girlfriends' visit.
It's not quite 6:00 am Friday morning, I'm still in my Pj's, sitting at the computer frantically putting the finishing touches to the 'Hubnugget' hub for publication... (I was going to have it done yesterday when instead I waltzed around with a pole all day--- don't laugh but what I had to do to get that post into the ground could not be called pole dancing) now I was in a time pinch all before 7:15am (I was invited to golf and T-off was at 8:00 sharp).
Living in the country with windows wide open in the summer time you hear when a car pulls in the driveway and continues up to the front of the house.
Not so nice words that came out of my mouth were polluting the up to then still fresh morning air... The dogs were barking up a storm, they were underfoot.... As I went to the front door with way more speed than anyone should have to use so early in the morning I pulled on a Hoody over my Pj's while still bitching about being disturbed. Looking out of the 'stained glass window' section beside the front door all I saw was a strange car with the trunk lid up and a what looked like a female butt sticking out as the 'inconsiderate-disturbing-me-when-I'm-in-a-hurry-so&so' plopped a suitcase on the ground beside her sandal-ed well tanned feet. Thinking this was a 'mistaken identity of a home' I opened the door and was just about to shout "can I help you" when the sweetest sight stepped back from the car.
I squealed..... Tressa squealed.... then we both squealed... the dogs barked and we squealed some more while we hugged. I was hopping around with her in my arms, not feeling the gravel of the driveway pocking my feet... deafening her as I screamed into her ear.... while I squished the living breath out of her.
By now 'Tressa' was all calm, cool and collected and I was still beside myself not wanting to let go of this figment of my imagination. In the back of my mind I was searching what I had eaten or drank the night before that could possibly give me this vivid, what seemed like true illusions of my friend, whom I had not seen for almost 18 years. The last time she had been back was for her Mom's funeral... as a matter of fact she hadn't been back to Ontario for anything except for three funerals--- her Grandma Babtcha's in '82, her Dad's in '85 and then her Mom's in the late fall of 1992.
Naturally she was able to be calm and so cooooool. After all she had almost three days to get used to the idea of coming home to Ontario for a visit. "You sh**head (a cute little nickname we used to call each other, it was in the '70 that we grew up in after all) why didn't you mentioned you're coming for a visit when I'd called you to wish you a happy Birthday Tuesday morning...? Where did you drop off your hubster?"
It took quite a while until I realized that this was after all not a mirage or wishful thinking and I did brave it, to let go of her arm. I must honestly confess that the hubnugget hub and publishing it totally evaporated my mind as did the golf game until I got the phone call wondering where the h**I I was.
Half an hour later, coffee in hand Tressa explained that her hubster had been such a sweetheart and even had pretended to have forgotten to get her a birthday present. Then he had teased her that it was actually a gift for himself --- peace and quiet for three whole weeks from her --- from her wondering what the kids were doing --- generally of her worrying about them. She still found it quite amazing and mentioned it a whole lot of times, that he was able to clear it with the hospital that she works at as the head for the Xray department, and they were able to keep it quiet.
The plane had set down in Toronto and instead of staying in the city for a bit of a rest Tressa had taken the reserved rental car a day earlier and had driven the 3.5 hours with the help of a half a dozen cups of 'Timmies' to my place. She said she would have been too excited to sleep anyway. And who wants to sleep when there is such a surprise in the works anyway.
Coffee pot two--- we sat out on the back deck talking, talking and more talking as if life had not happened to us and all the ones around us.
Age wise Tressa had finally caught up with me and had just turned fifty-six (I mention this gleefully even though I've already been this awful age since December). She confessed that she never had any problems before with getting older, but these passed two years had really knocked the socks out from under her. Nikolas, her older son had left home to go to University two years ago and Kimmy, her daughter, her youngest, had married in June just two months ago. That the house would be empty never hit her till three or four days after the wedding couple had left on their honeymoon. Tressa just couldn't figure out what to do with her time after the long, long busy year of prepping the works for a three hundred people wedding.
It only took us to be together for a few hours before we got back into our habit of finishing off each others sentences.
By 11:00 am or so I finally persuaded her to go grab a quick shower while I got the spare bedroom ready. Tressa went and had a snooze after calling hubster and her children to let them know she had arrived safe and sound.
This was going to give me the chance to finish off the hubnugget hub and publish it. Lucky it was all planned out and I only had to add the pictures, all else was all ready. My mind kept wandering off here and there with memory lane opening up wider and wider.
This was the friend who had taken me under her wing when we first immigrated here to Canada. This is the friend I got into all kinds of mischief with. Not bad mischief really, but the kind I really would not want my children and granddaughters to know about. Just the kind that the mom and grandmother in me could agonize over, like hitchhiking for example. Thinking back of how many places and miles we traveled to by sticking out out thumbs. Honestly it wasn't just the trouble we would have gotten into if our parents would have found out but the danger the two of us, two 15 year old girls were in. Oh my..., just the thought of what could have happened to us can still make my hair stand up on edge. In the seventies nobody thought twice of begging a ride to the beach party 25-50 miles away.
My Mom always said that she didn't feel she had to worry about me when I was with Tressa as she was always so level headed and she would keep the hot head that I was under control. Examining my feelings --- I can remember feeling slightly upset or was it jealous a couple of times when it was rubbed into my hide that I was just too impetuous, always too impulsive, too passionate for my own good. I should take a page out of Tressa's book and be cool like a cucumber... Ha, the joke was on my poor Mom because Tressa was just as happy and just as likely to cause disruptions as I was, she just seemed to know better which words 'grown-ups' wanted to hear from us teenagers.
I had persuaded my Dad to loan me the money for a car (which eventually became my 16th birthday and Christmas present). I will call it a car because it did have 4 round wheels (only the bottom of the tire was flat at times hahaha). The guy who sold that blue lemon is burning in hell, I'm positive, for selling a piece of crap like that to a young girl. (Mind you I loved that piece of crap more than any other car I've ever owned till this day)
The little car, which I named 'Freddy' was 'not' running more often than it was. My poor Dad who worked twelve hour days, seven days a week unfortunately didn't have the time to fix the many, many aching pieces of 'Freddy'.
Being too impatient to wait I learned how to fix things myself, from replacing the leaky fuel tank to replacing the radiator, I took it in my stride. (After a short little while the guy at the car wreckers became a close friend). Tressa became a great 'tool-handle-over-er', she understood immediately what I needed when I called from underneath the car for a thingy-ma-gig with the crooked handle or for that 'doodaad' from under the hood.WE were a great team.
After I had the car we did not hitch too many rides to the beach anymore (well not often anymore...) now we only had to hitchhike to the nearest phone so we could call someone to give us a tow or a boost.
We did repay our owings to the hitchhikers society though... With gas prices being minimal we didn't think twice of delivering a poor stranded 'thumb-er' to his destination even if it was a hundred miles away.
Tressa was really ticked with me and didn't talk to me for weeks when I quit school and took a job at 'Fabulous Formals' a sewing factory that made as the name says formal dresses and bridal gowns. She didn't understand that I a total hothead found school quite useless in those days. Cutting off the nose to spite my face comes to mind. I wanted to become an architect, and in those days in small town Ontario as I girl I was not allowed to take the necessary courses, like drafting etc... after all a boy has more control over a pencil and a ruler than a girl, right? (just a couple of years after I quit school, in the fall of the year I got married in '73 that the high school had the first intake of girls into the architectural drafting courses)
(Eventually years later when I finally went back and got my high school diploma and enrolled in college there was nobody who cheered more and louder than my friend Tressa. A Graphic artist wasn't an architect but it pleased me well enough. As a graduation gift they sent me plane tickets to California... she wasn't able to travel because she was expecting... which did again result in heart ache, unfortunately). But I'm jumping ahead.
By mid afternoon Tressa woke up and we both continued down that wide memory lane together. Funny how things change yet stay the same... gin slings were still her fave drinks with pink lemonade...
Tressa and her hubby were my bridal party as was I in theirs. My tongue loosened by the gin (I always have that kind of reaction to gin) I finally told Tressa now that I absolutely hated that godawful gaudy dress she made me wear as her Maid-of-honor. It was orange sheer with butterfly wing sleeves, her young sister's and cousin's were turquoise. To top off the glorious mess we had wide rimmed hats to boot. We looked like a convention of birds of paradise. Tressa just roared at this and confessed that looking at her wedding photo album a few year later she herself was wondering where her taste had been.
We were expecting our first babies almost at the same time too. Unfortunately hers was called to become a little angel almost immediately after birth. Three more times they went through this ordeal of losing what both of them had wanted the most. Not until almost ten years later when they had stopped trying and were contemplating adoption did the first baby boy arrive safe and sound then a year later a beautiful little girl.
(Just mentioning the kids was enough to throw Tressa into a melancholic mood that tokk quite a bit of hilarity from the past to snap her out of. I now understood why Tressa's hubby had sent her home for a visit.)
We were the first to bid our friends goodbye when we, my now X, our two children and I moved out to British Columbia in the fall of 1978... All that to escape the rest of his 'fam-dam-ally', but that's a whole other big garbage can full of worms and we'll just leave that alone for now.
Tressa's hubby was (and still is) such a smart cookie that in 1979 a job offer came his way that they just couldn't refuse, however for which they had to moved to the Silicon Valley in California. To me this was great news because this way we were only hundreds of miles away from each other instead of thousands. California---British Columbia not so far--- just a few hours drive the border and a few more hours drive.
In December '80 we planned a perfect skiing holiday in Whistler British Columbia. My X decided in the last minute not to come along which made the trip even better as my marriage was not too healthy by then anymore. Although Tressa didn't do much skiing because she had just found out two days before the trip that she was expecting again.
Until I was able to join the computer age we both always had hefty phone bills... one week she'd call the next I would. Somehow knowing that money was tight she always came up with an excuse to get off the phone when it was my turn, then she would call me back on her dime. That's just the kind of friend she was.
Just before my marriage totally slipped into the deepest oceans abyss they invited me and my children to come and stay with them.
Tressa confessed that she had always hated that s.o.b. with a passion and never could figure out why I had stayed with him for so long better yet why I had married him in the first place. She also said that she had been miffed with me a bit for choosing to come back to Ontario instead of moving to California to be near them. She eventually forgave me realizing how much I missed my Mom and Dad. Also I really liked the US but I love Canada more was another reason for my choice.
We talked and talked and talked some more. I don't remember when it was the last time that I had such an open conversation. Nothing was sacred.
We decided to take the plunge the next day and make the 'pilgrimage' to Midland our home town which is about 7.5 - 8 hour drive north. Our families graves are up there which need their yearly clean-up (I had taken on that chore for Tressa family too years ago.) Once a year I spend a weekend up there visiting and cleaning up the grave stones of our families. It's not as morbid as you might think because I was able to spend some time with another one of my great friends--- well not any more now because she passed away two months after my last visit.
We took the scenic route which follows along the shores of Erie lake. We enjoyed every minute of the trip but because we stopped at every quilt, craft and pottery shop on the way the trip took us two days to get there.
We were able to meet with some of our old pals and they promptly arranged a party where we stayed up until the early hours of the morning yakking and catching up on all the happenings and also unfortunately finding out about some of the loses over the past few years and about one who is battling cancer right at the moment. It was an impromptu reunion that was definitely bittersweet.
(While we were all together with some of our old friends, hearing about all of their problems and lives Tressa didn't once mention her children in that sad melancholy way.)
On the way home, four days later, I brought up how hard the empty nest feelings had gotten to me. How miserable I had felt being a single parent etc... I am all alone now that my babies have flown the coop. I told her that even though I get to see my children and my granddaughters regularly it would never be the same as it had been before. After all they have to live their lives and Mom just wasn't the anchor in their lives anymore. This is the way it is and the way it has to be... the head knows this... but the heart still aches... We cried over this and laughed and cried some more.
Tressa had been my sounding board when I had a really hard go of the lone-lies when my youngest baby moved away three years ago to go to college. I knew then in my heart of hearts that my baby would love the city life better than the country living and that chances are that she would not move home anymore...which is exactly what has happened. I still get all sad and droopy every so often but I pile so much into my days that I don't have time to think about it too often anymore.
Tressa eventually admitted to having had a total melt down some weeks before her birthday. Her hubby has been away on business and came home to a wife that was totally falling apart at the seams. Apparently that's when hubster started to cook up this trip back home for Tressa. After a long silence, the first we had in days she grabbed her cell phone and called her hubby... it was the middle of the working day in Califoni-i-eh but she didn't care.
It was heart wrenching to listen to this woman, whom I had only ever know to fall apart at her Mom's funeral. This always calm as a cucumber friend who had been there for me through thick and thin for more year then I want to remember, was falling to bits because her children were on their way to leading their own lives. As she chatted with her hubby my mind went on it's own little side trip. I was amazed that even though she has the greatest hubster who loves her and whom she loves to no end was having the same feelings and doubts about her self worth as I had not so very long ago and am still battling through every so often...wow... very odd for sure.
I came to the conclusion there and then that the overwhelming feelings of motherhood don't stop even when your soul-mate is your life partner.
Tressa and I had a fabulous three weeks. This time together moved our friendship onto a different level. We're going to be buds for life that's for sure.... no doubt there. But it's somehow different, this was more than just an impromptu visit, it became a pilgrimage that eased two old friends through to the next phase of our lives where we are actually more than just '...can you double check these x-rays?' '...can you handle a dinner party for 35 next month?' and definitely more than my customers asking 'I need this dress made for...' and sadly much more than the kids asking 'hey Mom, where are my...?'
Somewhere along the line, these two old friends came to the realisation that we have become our mothers, their mothers and all the mothers of yesteryear who have had one thing in common, the love of our children... whom we have to let go to eventually become us....
I'm sitting here idly beside the computer. Tressa wouldn't let me go the the airport because she said all I would do is blubber. It's true, she's right about that, I would have blubbered all over her... now all I'm doing is blubbering all over myself... missing my pal already...
A total highlight though... all is well, and what's good for the goose is just prefect for the gander... Tressa is on her way to kidnap her hubby, she has two tickets in her purse for a week in Hawaii... She has booked the wedding suite...