My Oldest Bestie Visits


How I looked when I met Ellen

How I looked when I met Ellen

We’re grown ups now, and yet we’re not. My oldest best friend flew down to California yesterday and we quickly fell into the bubble that is our friendship. And shed about 40 years.

Ellen said, “I was braver with you. There are lots of things I never would have done if I hadn’t had you in my life.”

Funny. I remember it the other way around. I wasn’t a popular teen with lots of friends. I was friendly with lots of people but that’s different than the kind of friend you tell everything, and who probably knew it before you said it anyway. We were Tina Fey and Amy Poehler except for the funny part. (We were funny to ourselves, but no one else seemed to get what we were cracking up about.)

We did some truly embarrassing things, shored up by friendship. When Ellen ran for class secretary (something I wasn’t brave enough to do, though I disguised it as disinterest), our skit consisted of singing “Hey Big Spender,” altered to promote spending a vote on Ellen. When Ellen’s vocal talent made her a shoe-in for a big role in “No, No, Nanette,” I had to audition, too. Turns out I am pretty wooden on stage, but I could swish my hips well enough to punctuate my one line as a 20s floozy, “I’m Betty. Betty from Boston.”

Over it all, our fathers watched in mild amusement. With our mothers, we had that mother-daughter thing. We know they loved us deeply, but they were annoyed with us most of the time. Ellen’s mother once grounded her for a month for failing to unload the dishwasher. (The injustice! I’m still mad on her behalf.)

Ellen’s Dad, Terry, was the first of our parents to go. He was my “other father,” and losing him to cancer was a terrible blow. Two months later, my Mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. They died seven months apart. Last year, Ellen’s Mom and my father died within three months of each other.

Now we are orphans. People say that you’re never completely an adult until both of your parents have died. Only your parents knew who you were from the very beginning. And their quirks, talents, mannerisms, and appearance are baked into you.

We’re grown ups, and yet we’re not. Because when I am with my bestie, my sister wife, I shed my maturity. I am back to being the unsophisticated, not-truly-confident girl that used to lie next to my friend on my gigantic antique four poster bed, talking the night away. With Ellen, I can just be me, and I know she’ll love me unconditionally, as I love her.


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