I had to wait to write this post at a time when I wouldn't short out my computer keyboard from tear hyperactivity. It's been a huge transition for our little family (especially me) to leave a community in which I was born, grew up, left for college, got married, and had my first child, but I'm adjusting as well as I thought I would. I am discovering beauty every day, both in scenery and new friendships, so very soon, you just might be reading phrases like "I love it here!" and "I don't care if they don't have a See's within a 100-mile radius!". But for now, I'm still dying for a Rum Nougat (and a Double-Double, for that matter).
The Sunday before we pulled out of California, many many dear friends put together a fantastic open house to say their final farewells. It was a bittersweet night, because of course in my mind I was going through every memory with every person as they walked around and yapped and ate, unaware that though I was cackling and guffawing, inside I was a mess. Cackling is my coping mechanism. Now you know.
Stories in pictures:
Bruce, Elizabeth, Katie, and Sarah, holding our little Squeakpot. I was the exclusive babysitter for these girls when they were itty bitty. Well, really, since it was just Katie. I was 11 or 12, and for some reason, B&E entrusted their offspring to me for HOURS per week. Bruce is the only man besides Ted who wasn't afraid to come and rub my pregnant belly. I loved it, and somehow, he knew it (or didn't care).
Here's another lass I've known since she was a bump in mummy's tum. Amazing what an incredible young lady she's turned out to be - strong, clever, intelligent, mature, friendly, and the fastest fingers on a violin I think I've ever seen. She and her mom joined the church choir I directed for seven years, and as friends (basically family), we've been through a lot. Susie was my most recent visiting teacher, and for our visits, we went to go see plays! And to eat at restaurants! The culture and class just drips out of this woman, and her family mentoring hasn't stopped from my oldest brother to my youngest. She's such a giving, wonderful woman.
And here's Ted looking like he ditched his old wife for a new one. Tamar has been a long-time friend for, well, a long time. :) When I got my first teaching job, I went to her house, freaking out about how much I didn't know, and I gleaned as much wisdom from her teaching experience as I could. Ted and Tamar have known each other longer than I've known either, and after I dumped Ted the first time we dated, Tamar was a big part of Ted's support system. She's an active go-getter, and I only know a few people who have their hands in as many things as she does. And...she loves our kid, so she's way up there on our list.
This girl really belongs in the "scarecrow" position, but you know how blogger is. Shannon and I met at age 7 or so, and now we're, well, older. Words can't describe my deep-seated love for Shannon, because it comes from a place where you've had pretty great ups and pretty bad downs, and you've chosen to get through them all and keep being great friends. I realized while we lived together at college during our freshmen year (as the Hinckley Hall Hunnies, thank you) that we were as different as two women could be. It was a harsh realization, and I wasn't sure we would survive the ramifications, but I grew up and matured, and since then, we've been pretty inseparable. This girl plays a mean organ and game of basketball, whips up the best banana cream pie Ted and I have ever had, is more loyal than any yappy little puppy, and is one of the most devoted young moms I have the pleasure of knowing. She lives for her kids and has provided me with snippets of wisdom and goodness that I continue to use for my own life. Dawg, you know I love you. Here's to 25 more years together!
This next group is just a bunch of hooligans. Look at the mischief in their eyes! Four of the five folks pictured here raised children alongside my parents for 40 years, so I actually grew up with their kids (I've made out with two of the sons from the couple on the left - that's how tight I'm talkin' here), yet they have become my own friends. The secret is many many choir rehearsals with much raucous laughter. Music will do that - it is a timeless bond.
The two Allisons! Together I think we upped the naughty factor in RS significantly. She is a talented and very real piece of work. I've sought her advice on so many things, and was quite flabbergasted one day a few years ago when she wanted some acting tips for a show we were putting on. I couldn't believe she was actually nervous to perform! We laughed and laughed and she pulled everything off as if the audience were all her best friends and she was just being her usual unruly self. What a scream.
Ah, Jim and Carol. I would like to thank you both for looking so good that you actually made me look better. Here's another family I've known almost since time began, and I admit I feel lucky to have been a part of their history, even if only in the very smallest part. Jim and one of the hooligans in the above picture were dubbed the "two old muppets in the balcony" and certainly lived up to their nicknames every choir rehearsal. And the things Carol can do with paper are uncanny. The world is more enjoyable and beautiful because they exist.
Kim! My shoe-loving, tea-party-having, perfect-skinned princess! Can you believe this girl has a son who's my age? I STILL can't get over that! I've been dying to find out her secret for years, the little vixen. Her laugh is infectious, obviously.
Holy cow - where do I start with this next little group? Janet (Shannon/best friend's mom) is another one of those I-grew-up-with-your-kids-but-now-I'm-friends-with-you people, and we have been sharing a brain for several years now. I dubbed her my "other mother" because, well, she is. When a person spends almost every weekend at your house, playing your Monopoly, swimming (and peeing) in your pool, eating your blueberry muffins, and jacking Little Women off your bookshelf, and you just laugh and let them, you know it's love. I regret to inform everyone that little has changed, though I haven't jacked anything from their house in 20 years (but REALLY want to - have you seen this place??). The other family are the Moores. Kindred spirits, down to the core. Lilian is at your doorstep at the drop of a hat, doing anything and everything you never knew you needed. And I have never, nor will I ever, sing a better "Love Shack" than I do when I sing with Mike at Monday night karaoke, nor have I been as moved by an a capella version of any old hymn he chooses to sing. Mike, your voice is as golden as your wife and son.
Jean and Tim and little Weston are newer to my best friend scene, but no matter. Good food bonds people for life (like good music!) and the way these two dish it out, no wonder they have friends aplenty. I salute their love of Ghirardelli and M&Ms and bacon. Seriously.
Ross and Tina - what a riot. When Ted and I were first married (I can say that now because it's been two and a half loooooong years already), these two invited us over for dinner and a game night. I brought dessert (can't remember what, so it must not have been memory-worthy), and Tina cooked up some awesome beef roast with potatoes and corn. We gorged and then got schooled by Tina as she stomped us all at Settlers. What an embarrassment. The thing is, she doesn't even look or sound like a fighter. She's got the same joie de vivre as Natalie from the Facts of Life, yet she'll pull the rug out from under you, and then giggle that she got your goat.
I really miss you guys.
Tawnie. The Tawn-Tawn. The Tawnster. A week before popping. Wish I could have looked that good. I guess you have to start out at 80 pounds, though. Gee whiz, she makes me look like I'm having another one, too. How depressing. Thanks, babe!
My best friend's husband of 6 1/2 years. I still got it, baby.
These three were all friends from our "single days". The two on the left are Heather and Andrew, a sassy meat-and-potatoes-and-disco sort of match-up, and the guy on the right is married to the 80-lb popper above (and has recently been joined by their poppee). I love that we all made our lives in the same spot, watched everyone date their honeys, get married, etc, and now we all get together and laugh about marriage. What a gas life is.
Few people have just marched into my life with no qualms or hesitations and wordlessly demanded my friendship, but Annette has, thank the Lord. And I was dying to give it to her.
What would a party for us have been without fabulous food? Janet, Shannon, Pam, Barbara, Susie, Carol, Annette, thank you for hosting the most wonderful send-off from a most wonderful place. We didn't deserve such lavish attention, but were grateful for it all the same.
Farewell to Pasadena, my old friend. I believe it is possible to keep all the best friends you have made through many years and to make even more in just a few. North Carolina, you have big shoes to fill, but already have a lot going for you. Hello and I love you to all my new friends and Farewell and I love you forever to all the old. Until I see you again...