Weddings are wonderful occassions for bringing people together.
This one was timed perfectly for my friend, Barbara-Jill and me.
Let me tell this story from the beginning.
In the summer (I think) of 1997 (I think), the j*erks people that live across the street decided to rent their house out. I'm sure it won't surprise you to know that I used to be a one-woman welcoming committee (though not the only one in my close-knit cul-de-sac) and I generally had warm cookies there in time to give a few to the movers.
Anyway, I came back from dropping off the cookies and told Mr. Fix-it, "You don't need to see the license plates to tell they're from Joi-sey." I'm not sure I understood everything they said.*
We were everything to each other the way a friend with whom you share a child of the same age and have a mere few feet of blacktop between your homes can be. And it was good. Oh-so-good. Lawn chairs and People magazine and cold Diet Coke and late-afternoon cocktails and beach trips and concerts and vacation outings good.
The jerky neighbors moved home and Barbara-Jill and her husband and son moved to a new neighborhood and then not terribly long after, back to New Jersey. All told, she lived here about three years.
Life in New Jersey has been rough for my dear friend. The list of things that have happened to her--any one of which would knock a strong woman on her ass--is long.
We stayed in touch by phone and I made three (wonderful) trips to see her sans children a couple of years after she came up for air from her first crisis (NYC! Boston! The Jersey Shore) Now the thing about Barbara-JIll is, girlfriend can cope. She is definitely a batten-down-the-hatches, I've-got-it-covered-by-myself coper.
(I once forcibly removed her healthy preschooler from her house when she was vomiting and feverish because she didn't want me to put myself out,)
(My last visit was related to a health scare and she only let me come because I booked a ticket, emailed her the flight information and told her I would be right pissed if I had to take a taxi from Newark).
Until Hurricane Sandy, Barbara-Jill and I hadn't spoken for three years. You don't really get rid of me by not talking to me, though. I left her quarterly voicemails that I was thinking of her and her son and I'd love to hear from her. When Sandy hit, I texted. They were lucky to be on a college tour in Florida and out of Sandy's path and she let me know they were safe.
Since then, we have caught up and I do mean caught up. There may or may not have been a 7-hour phone call involved. There was the glimmer of an idea and then the shape of a possibility and then the likelihood of a likelihood and finally there was a solid plan. We would reunite at the wedding.
NOTHING RUINED OUR PLANS (and believe me, this deserves to be shouted).
From the minute we got together it was just like the old days. Lucy and Ethel would have a hard time keeping up with our zaniness. It's a synergistic relationship--our joi de vivre is exponentially increased when we are together. The Fine Young Man got a front seat to our wackiness as we tried to navigate (okay, it was all my fault) the Dan Ryan.
I can guarantee you, it will not be another decade before we are together again. It might not be another year.
The Fine Young Man is graduating from high school on Thursday. He has big plans in the fall--my friend is one of those fierce single moms that scrabbled out a life with sheer grit that gave her son every opportunity out there--and he took advantage of them. He's a musician, thespian, scholar and generally-rocking human being.
Oh, the places he'll go . . .
* I didn't say it to her face. Even then I knew that Jersey Barbie can kick California Barbie's a** every time.