Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Pie Tree Reunion

Last night, my friend Simone flew into the city and stayed with Raj and I. Simone and I met in 6th grade and were best friends all through middle school and most of high school. I grew up with this girl. For most of our friendship when we were younger, we were inseparable. She was close with my family, I was close with hers. She's part of almost all of my happiest memories from those years. We slept over each other's houses all the time, played pool together on the weekends, drank too much beer at parties down on dead-end streets in our New England town, talked for hours about the boys we liked, the boys we were with, s-e-x, and our dreams about the future.

Her mom would often make cottage cheese pancakes (unbelievably awesome), whenever I slept over. Her mom was from Argentina, and her father from here. They often drank wine with dinner and had a silver pitcher from which they served chilled water during meals. They had a lacy tablecloth on the dining room table, and everything was arranged just so. Their house was quieter than mine. There were less kids - only Simone and her sister - and it was nice to hide away from the chaos of my home every now and then at Simone's place. Her parents often had classical music on, and it was in her home that I first fell in love with the soundtrack from Evita (long before Madonna and Antonio became involved).

Her parents always treated me like their third child, and I was close with them, particularly with her mom. Towards the end of high school and during college, Simone and I started to grow apart. We grew apart for many reasons. We were growing and discovering more about ourselves and we were exploring new ideas and people. There were some sources of tension as well. Our senior year, Simone started becoming very close with a friend I had been close with before I met Simone. The two of them became fast friends, started dressing in dark clothing and wearing doc martens everywhere. I was a little jealous and I was also sad because I could feel us growing apart. I scrunched down the sadness, didn't say anything, and filled up senior year with my boyfriend at the time, the prom, and planning for college.

In college we reconnected, and found that we were traveling similar paths. I was becoming interested in women's studies, she was becoming more involved in environmentalism and being green. Neither one of us had much of a desire to maintain ties with anyone else from our high school class. Most of them had stayed in our town after highschool. Many of them had married each other. So many of them had no desire to leave, and Simone and I couldn't understand it. We had both been so excited to leave. So excited to start college, and our lives. To travel and learn and see as much of the world as possible. Maybe it's because we grew up traveling abroad as children. Her to her family in Argentina, me to my family in Sweden. For whatever reason, there was no way we were staying in our small Connecticut town for a second longer than we needed to.

After college, when I was living in Boston, I went to Colorado, where Simone was then living, to stay with her and travel around Colorado and Utah. For two weeks we drove her SUV around. We went to Canyonlands, Mesa Verde, the hot springs in Durango, and Arches in Utah. I had never been to that part of the U.S. and I thought it was all breathtakingly gorgeous. We camped in a small green tent, hiked, and only had one major fight, which was impressive, considering that we hadn't seen each other for a long time, were very different individuals, and did different things that annoyed each other. At one point, before we started traveling around, when we were not getting along, her mother called to say hello to both of us. I was so close with her family, more like a sister than a friend, that when Simone told her mom that we were fighting, her mom told her to put me on the phone.

Her mom and I then talked about what was going on, and her mom, to her credit, did not simply take Simone's side. There was no side-taking at all in fact. Instead, she listened to me just as she had listened to Simone and counseled me just as she had counseled Simone. She reminded me that Simone and I both had our strengths and our weaknesses, and that thought we had grown up and were different, we still had our friendship and everything that we had shared, and it was important to remember that. Her mom was awesome.

In 1999, Simone's mom became sick with a type of rare skin cancer. To this day, I still don't understand exactly what it was. For a while they thought it was psoriasis. Her skin became red and itchy, and she was uncomfortable for years. She tried natural remedies, and then turned to stronger drugs as she became sicker and sicker. During the summer before I left Boston for law school in Michigan, I spent many weekends with Simone in the hospital in Connecticut visiting with her mom. I would take the train down from Boston and hang out in the hospital with Simone and her mom, or spend the night with Simone in her family's house in town.

When Simone's mom died, I walked with Simone in the funeral and I cried with her as they buried her mom. Later, Simone and I planted flowers on top of her mother's grave. I still miss her mom. It's been about six years since Simone's mom died, and Simone has handled it as well as anyone could. She's worked through a lot of her grief, but it's still there. How could it not be? For the last 4 months, Simone traveled around in Argentina. It had been a trip that she decided to go on in part to reconnect with her mother's family in Argentina, and the country from where her mother was from. It was a way of reconnecting with her mom. She quit her job, packed her bag, left her apartment and her car, and took off for Argentina. Several months back when I first started receiving her mass emails tracking her trip, I had no idea what was going on, but now I understand.

Last night, we drank a bottle of wine and caught up on the last few years. We made it through one of five siblings, her Dad's impending remarriage (this weekend), her current romantic status, my romantic status and the fact that (gasp!) I'm now living with a boy, and some of our professional disappointments and aspirations. There was a lot of giggling, and it felt just like it did back when we were in Middle School sleeping over each other's houses. We still have so much to talk about. I am so genuinely happy that I finally saw her again, and that she seems to be doing so well. This weekend is her father's remarriage, and though I can't make it for the wedding, I'm thinking of going to Connecticut for the day on Saturday or Sunday. After all, her Dad still calls me his "third-daughter." How could I miss this opportunity to see her family again?


Tracy said...

That sounds like a great reunion! There is something so special about friends who you grew up with because they know your history in a way that others don't. The know the you that you are now as well as the you back then.

Buttercup said...

Exactly Tracy. And even if you've grown apart, you still know each other in a way that most other people never can. Reconnecting like that also reminds me about different parts of myself. It's grounding in a way.

Gypsy said...

What an enriching relationship you two have had. I'm so glad you've been able to reconnect. As I've gotten older, I realize how much value there is in people who really *know* you.

There's a girl I grew up with who I've always wanted to have in my wedding. Lately, because we've lost touch, I've reconsidered that. But reading this... I'm not sure.

Bean said...

I am glad that you and Simone are having fun. It makes me giggle...you and Simone. ARe you Pumba? JK. You should definitely try to go to the wedding. I only have one friend Saps who i can connect with like that but it has been awhile since we have seen eachother.

Bean said...

That's funny her mom who counsel you when y'all went on a trip and fought...that's gotta make you laugh.