When I think about that era, I feel as though I’m watching a movie of someone else’s life. Not a typical linear drama or action-adventure, but one with a surreal aspect and filters and wild colors.
That season was the perfect storm of two young women, both wrestling with their own unique inner turmoil, unwittingly addressing deeper issues by way of non sequiturs. Our friendship was like two tornados coming together. It made for more drama, more havoc, more damage, more colorful stories.
We were each other’s alter-ego. Externally, she was everything opposite of me. Tall where I was short. Thin where I was curvy. Brunette where I was blond. But really, we were a lot of like, both in background and personality and and interests and passion for our shared career. Our combination tended to draw attention. We liked that.
We sat across from each other at work. We were neighbors. But the earliest memory I have of her was right after I moved to that sweet backwards little town in the Sierra foothills. I was in my new apartment, sitting Indian style on the carpet because I had no furniture. I had fit everything I owned into my little red Chevy coup (a TV seat belted into my front seat, my snowboard slid down the side against the door) and drove into that town having never seen it. It seemed natural at the time. All of my belongings were only enough to fill a corner of my new living room, still in boxes covered in misshaped letters scrawled with a Sharpie.
When the doorbell rang, I opened it to her standing in her pajamas, two wine glasses in one hand, a bottle of wine in the other. We became friends in that instant.
That summer was a mash up of crazy parties and late-night adventures and music and men. The kaleidoscope of memories are all somehow connected yet disjointed. That we each had a partner-in-crime to live it with helped normalize and justify it. The harbor that small town provided kept us protected in some ways from the fullness of the consequences. But we also came to each other’s rescue when needed. She is one in a handful of people who has seen me at my worst. I am one who was there at the discovery of her body turning against her.
We both look back on it with a little bit of unease and disbelief, but an understanding that in our confusion, we didn’t know how to do it any different. We were searching for answers to our individual questions through similar means. At the time we didn’t realize that.
It is nine years later, and we have reconnected. Our lives spun in different directions and then came back together like boomerangs. We are older now, a little more mature, and more settled with who we are. We have both sought answers at church and by writing, through different paths and at different paces. We’re both reeling from what life has dealt but better adept at processing it through by healthy means.
That has brought us to a haunt in another town, also small but more refined. As it once was, our entry earns some glances. But we are less-phased and more focused. We lounge at a table with an umbrella on a deck in summer heat that permits dresses and flip flops after dark. In less than 24 hours, we sort through the memories of that time, as if we have taken out the dusty box we stored that summer in and are examining the faded and curled photos of each event. We talk about God and religion and family and health and relationships, and how each connects. We talk about our frustrations with life’s tendency to not go by our plans, and our coming to terms with it. “I’ve given up on any sort of timeline,” she says. And the wisdom of that resonates with me.
This summer we’ve once again made plans. But it won’t be a summer of unbridled and raw revelry we once experienced together.
The mystery of a boomerang is that it doesn’t always come back to you how it started.