“Write about your oldest friend.”
I am interpreting this to mean someone with whom you’ve had a friendship of long duration, not someone you’re friends with who is a senior citizen or close to it.
My oldest friend is Cathy. We met in secretarial school and soon discovered we lived down the street from each other so we started car pooling.
My initial impression of Cathy was, she was well put together and nicely dressed. We were learning speedwriting in order to take dictation and as a left-hander, Cathy had to turn her notebook upside down so the wire binding wouldn’t be in her way.
On our brief break during morning classes, Cathy, this other girl Charlotte and I would drive to the nearby McDonald’s for Cokes and fries. Cathy would pull out a box of fancy French cigarettes. She liked them because they had a gold band around the filter. She had to go to a special tobacco shop downtown to buy them.
Cathy had a plan. She was attending secretarial school so she could work as a secretary while she attended college. Soon she found a part-time secretarial position. On paydays, she’d have an assortment of envelopes earmarked for various purchases. She’d divide her cash up into each of them. She drove a little yellow car her father who was a doctor had bought her. She was still dating her high school boyfriend, but they eventually broke up.
I remember the first time I went over to her house and saw her bedroom. She had a can of Dr. Pepper open on her desk along with a big bag of Cheetos. Cathy was pretty slender, but right then and there I thought, “I can be friends with this girl. She eats junk food.” She had a bulletin board crammed with mementos. Cards and ribbons and ticket stubs. All kinds of stuff.
I’d had a relationship that ended badly and I moved away from the area for awhile, but Cathy called me on Christmas. I think that’s when I knew she was going to be one of those forever friends. We hadn’t known each other for very long, but the fact that she missed me or thought of me enough to call me on Christmas meant a lot. When I moved back we started hanging out all the time.
We’d haunt the cosmetic aisle at the nearby Albertsons and practice applying individual fake eyelashes on each other. We were regulars at a local pub that sold cheap pitchers of Sangria.
Our lives took different paths. She did go to college and got her degree. We followed each other through our various romantic relationships and we were in each other’s weddings. In fact, she was the only person I asked to stand up with me at my wedding.
For years Cathy collected Hummels. I never did understand their appeal. She went on to make a career in the world of scrapbooking which was perfect for her since she was doing it long before it became big business.
Cathy was always a champion multi-tasker, but she honed her skills even further homeschooling five daughters. She may still be struggling with her addictions to M & M’s and Pepsi.
We haven’t lived in close proximity to each other for years, but we manage to see each other at least a couple of times a year. In between, there are long telephone calls, occasional texts and Facebook. We used to randomly send funny cards to each other for no reason at all.
Together, we’ve pondered the reason we became such good friends. I’m not sure we ever know why we click with one person and not with others. I can say now, with so much history between us, that Cathy is one of those people who simply gets me. We often think alike and have the same reaction to things. We are always there for each other, even if it’s just a phone call to vent to someone who will understand when we’re upset. There is something to be said for having at least one person in your life to whom you can say anything.
Years ago we talked of taking a trip to Paris together. Then 9/11 happened and we put it off. After that there were other reasons we didn’t go, kids and college expenses and scheduling conflicts. Instead of funny cards we started randomly sending each other small Paris-themed items just for fun. We both have quite a collection now. My passport is about to expire and has no stamps in it. Sigh.
I suggested perhaps a trip to Paris, Tennessee might be doable, but Cathy has yet to respond to that idea.
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