March is Women’s History Month (in the US).
This is a series of posts about important women.
Do you have a friend who’s been part of your life for as long as you can remember? It’s a crazy, wonderful relationship. Almost like siblings, but you *choose* to stay close.
Through the toughest times of my formative years, Sarah was there. We lived across the alley from one another, and in the most ironic of ironies, our grandmothers had been good friends when they were young – Sarah’s grandmother’s family moved away, but both women would go on to become nurses. We found out about this years after we had developed our own relationship.
Her house was as familiar as my own; we spent as much time together as we could. Even when our little snit of friends were “feuding” (there was a crazy maker among us), Sarah and I did our best to stay out of it. It was her treehouse I fell out of; her swing set that fell down on me; her tent that we were in when the boys across the way stole the tent pegs. It was her father who was the first on our block to have a computer, her new shoes I puked on after the seventeenth week of Alphagetti for lunch, her beach house I spent so many summer weekends in. We used to bike out to her grandmother’s house in a little community a few kilometres outside of the city.
Sarah is very clever. She’s wickedly funny – in that dry, cutting sort of way. If you listened closely to the things she muttered under her breath, you could always tell when the smile on her face meant “I hope your autonomic nervous system shrivels up and dies”. She was my friend through thick and thin, and she was always someone I could talk to.
Girls are horrible. Especially pre-teen girls. In grade 5, Sarah went to a different school because they’d eliminated the kindergarten at our neighbourhood school and her brother was just starting kindergarten. Grades 5 and 6 were awful. I was friends with lots of kids, but there was nobody with whom I could just glance across the room and share one of those “knowing looks”.
Junior high school in our town was cringe-worthy. I was not skinny enough, not stupid enough, not makeup-wearing enough, not wealthy enough, not loser enough, not metalhead enough, not slutty enough. I mean, everything I did was “not the way it was done”, whether it was trying to actually *edit* the school’s student newspaper or doing polynomial arithmetic. I can, without a single reservation, tell you that I am surprised I survived junior high school. If it hadn’t been for Sarah, I’m not sure I would have. I think her experience was worse than mine, because I just didn’t have a clue that people were mocking me and bullying me. I knew when they were being cruel *to her*, and that gave me something to do – I could be her champion.
Even when she found something she really enjoyed – something she felt confident with (Drama), the other girls were *completely horrible* to her. She asked me to join Drama (I ended up doing makeup), and I ended up falling in love with it. Later, in high school, we would act together in one play, and drama is something I still enjoy doing now. I would never have thought to try it if it hadn’t been for Sarah.
Our relationship was full of laughter always. We fought, and quarrelled, and for a long time in grade 12, she quit talking to me. I…didn’t notice. I mean, I figured something was up, but I thought that when she was ready to talk about it, she would. Eventually, she did, after some prodding. (It was typical teenager bullshit, and we got over it.) We were weirdos together – high school was much easier (for me) than junior high had been. I did try to fit in, an experiment which was an abject failure, and ended up just deciding to do whatever the hell I wanted. Sarah was always there, encouraging me, laughing at me, laughing with me, and centring me. In University, we lived together for a while…even when she moved to the east coast, we stayed in touch.
We still keep in touch, although it’s more difficult now – I have a family and she has a career that has taken her to Ontario – but whenever we talk, it’s like no time has passed. She can still, with two words, crack me up. His Nibs, in many ways, is *very much* like Sarah. In fact, I think if they spent more time together, they would have rather a lot in common to bitch about.
I miss her dearly and wish we spent more time together. We’ll still be friends when we’re 90.