Posted July 12, 2011 by
On Saturday Vera and I drove down to Long Beach to see a friend. On the way we stopped to pick up a few things that I put into a gift bag: a bottle of Beckman, some peanut M&Ms, a can of Graber olives, and a sack of beach toys — all things that hold special meaning for my oldest friend Liz and her kids. They moved back to California 5 days ago, after seven years in Baltimore.
Liz and I met at Montessori in Atlanta and have been friends ever since.
(Me & Liz, age 5. She still makes that exact face.)
We went to prom together, graduated high school together, bummed around Europe and visited each other in all the various places we lived after that — Charleston, NYC, DC and LA.
(Me & Liz, age 6. My mom used to call her Peanut. I’m still taller than her.)
Liz flew home from studying abroad in Spain the week my mother died and slept in my bed with me for a week. Although I felt more alone than I ever had that week, listening to her quiet nighttime breathing on the pillow beside me was the only thing that held me together.
(Us in 9th grade. We both have braces and it’s my 15th birthday. My mom sent us to the movies in a limo and made us get dressed up. I’m cringing just writing about it.)
Seven years later when my dad got sick we were both living in California. Liz visited my dad every week and she was there holding his other hand the night he died. Needless to say, Liz shows up in almost every chapter of my book.
(Here we are with our senior prom dates. My hair is an appalling shade of red — I dyed it that afternoon, naturally. Liz still has that dress and wears it sometimes. And it still looks great.)
(Our senior year photo shoot. Although we naturally looked pretty surly in those days, we were really playing it up for guy behind the camera.)
Liz moved to Baltimore a year or so after my dad died when her beautiful, young sister was diagnosed with cancer. Jen died in 2007, a month before Liz found out that she was pregnant with her daughter. I wish I could say all the above that I wrote about Liz — that I was by her side when Jen died, that I was there that week, helping her feel not so alone, but for a thousand reasons that I wish I could change now, I wasn’t.
(Me and Liz in Spain. You’ll have to read Chapter 4 of my book for the story behind this photo.)
(Me putting my mother’s wedding garter on Liz’s leg, moments before she walked down the aisle.)
(Thoroughly tipsy at Beckman Vineyards outside of Santa Barbara 6 or so years ago.)
In the last 4 years Liz and I have been through a lot of life moments without each other — my wedding, the birth of three kids between the two of us, cross-country moves, and a lot more things that aren’t so loud. But we’ve held on.
(Liz visiting me in Chicago with her daugther Reilly three weeks after Veronica was born.)
On Saturday I got to drive down to Long Beach and walk into Liz’s new home. I got to watch our daughters play together.
(Veronica & Reilly Jane)
And I got to feel the companionship of one of the few people I’ve known my entire life.
(Me & Liz, three days ago.)