Wednesday, October 29, 2008

For Chelle on her 42nd Birthday

Once upon a time, Wenderina shared a homeroom with Chelle and became BFFs (before there even was such an acronym)...

They were inseparable really. In fact, the idea that Chelle's parents might send her to Catholic school for high school reduced both of them to tears (and created a small earthquake at Wenderina's home when her mom read a note between Chelle and Wenderina and thought that the word Mooney - the name of the school - was Money - and wondered what mischief these two thirteen year olds were up to!)

Wenderina thought she was SO COOL at 13 (not) and was amazed that Chelle was interested in being her friend.

The Catholic school crisis averted, together Chelle and Wenderina navigated the dangerous waters of public high school, experiencing embarrassing moments, minor flirtations, a few devastating crushes, sweet sixteen birthdays, some camping trips and vacations, Young Life (what we think of as a pre-internet social network), Pat Benatar!!!, Journey!!!!, proms, first loves, and - oh yeah - a few classes here or there.

Not the least of their friendship was Wenderina's admiration in Chelle's ability to look like Gene Simmons - complete with natural widow's peak and earily long lizard-like tongue.

Wenderina and Chelle spent many hours rocking to Pat Benatar, Journey, REO Speedwagon, and other great 80's bands. They agreed there was nothing better than "Hit Me with Your Best Shot" sung at top volume into hairbrush/microphones.

They worked together as editors on the Senior Class yearbook. Which makes looking back on those yellowed pages filled with meaningless notes from friends about "friends 4-ever" etc. that much funnier and more nostalgic.

"Who ARE these people???", they both proclaim..."Why don't we remember them???"

The last year of high school was different for these two fast friends. Chelle had fallen in love - real love - and Wenderina was unattached. Chelle fell in love with her BLIND DATE to the Junior Prom. Wenderina thought that was unbelievable.

At the time Wenderina was jealous, but looking back, what else would be expected of a first love?
When the college years came, they were convinced nothing could keep them apart. But, alas, those years broke the habit of daily contact, which started the inevitable breach.
Chelle married right after college - that first love became her only love - and moved to Florida. Wenderina was engaged herself, and married one year later and settled in New York. They even selected the same song for their first dance as married women - Taylor Dane's I'll Always Love You. But, the distance took its toll, and the everyday friendship became christmas cards and rare phone calls.

A few years ago, Chelle and her hubby were in New York City for a short vacation and Wenderina took the train in to spend the day hanging out. It was a chance for them to re-connect and amazingly, they picked up right where they left off - no awkward silences, no difficult moments - just easygoing hanging out buddies all over again.

But still...the connection was fragile and didn't really penetrate the miles.
Last year, Chelle suffered a loss no one should have to deal with - the loss of her younger sister in a tragic accident. But, as happens in the worst situations, something good may have come from it. Chelle and Wenderina found the bond again. Finally, the friendship grew out of the christmas card club. Separated by many miles and many state borders, they are slowly finding their way back to a time when neither goes a day without thought of the other.

This October, Chelle celebrates her 42nd birthday and to mark the occasion, the two enjoyed a weekend of bliss and blisters walking many a city block in NYC. Together again, they chatted and giggled and sighed and smiled and compared wrinkles and gray hairs that were never there before.

"Where did that line in the middle of our foreheads come from, anyway?"

They found their friendship again while the NY Public Library, the International Center for Photography, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rockafeller Center, 5th Avenue, Time Square, the Pig & Whistle, NY Penn Station, the #6 train, Starbucks, NY Pizza joints, Grand Central Station, and Broadway all served as backdrop.
Little did Chelle and Wenderina picture they would journey from the suburbs of Upstate NY to hanging out on the streets of Manhattan.

Wenderina personally has trouble remembering many of the details of high school. Chelle does a good job filling in the blanks, with a few gaps herself. But all in all, what matters most, is they both remember that they couldn't have survived it without the other.

Love you Chelle - through thick (a.k.a. thunder) thighs and thin, through loves and losses, through home life and work strife, and everything in between.

You are the best.

Have a wonderful 42nd year!


AmyBow said...

It appears that the two of you are like fine wine - growing better with age. Seriously, I could recognize you in those young pictures but they hold only a glimmer of the beautiful women you have become.

Rhea said...

That is a fabulous tribute to one woman and to women's friendships in general!

Mama Lou said...

I loved reading your tribute. it brought back so many memories for me, too.
Finding a note, huh? Well that I do not remember but glad all turned out so well.
I am sure it will be a tribute that Chelle will treasure.
Never lose touch and keep the friendship growing.
I can attest to the oldest friends always turn out the best.

so NOT cool said...

Oh, I still love Pat Benatar. I wish that she was *around* more. The last time that I saw her was on The Young & The Restless. (Yes. Really.)

This brought to mind something that happened a few months after my mom bought the Pat Benatar album. My mom had been playing the album regularly for months, so my little sister (about age four at the time) and I knew all the songs. One time, we were at my sister's (very religous) grandparents house (we had different dads) and she started singing "Hell is for Children". I can still hear Grandma saying, "What was that, honey?!" Heh.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Fire away!

What a great trip and a great friendship.

Chelle said...

Thanks Dear.. You will get a payback!
PS You are still to date the only person who ever threw me a surprise party! Glad to know you treasure our friendship as much as I do --You are the real deal!