A warm blanket. Your favorite sweater. The jeans which could be called fashion catastrophes, and you just KNOW instantly qualify you as a Glamour "DON'T" if anyone ever caught you in public with a camera (especially when combined with that comfy but not quite trendy sweater) which you just can't throw away. They comfort you in their yielding softness, how they give to your every step and move and have been with you for so darn long.
These are all things of comfort. That bring me enormous happiness.
A few weeks ago, I saw one of my oldest friends, Danielle.
Danielle and I have been friends since we were in the third grade. When I first saw her enter the schools of my elementary school hall, I was a bit awestruck and perhaps a little jealous. She had this long dirty blonde hair that went all the way down her back and miracle of all miracle, no frizz. I self-consciously pushed my own hair back off of my forehead, trying not to focus on the random curls springing all over my head that could hardly be called pretty at the time as I went to introduce myself.
(I would later come to learn that my hair could, in fact, be pretty, but I had not yet discovered that running a brush through spiral curls 100 times a night might work for Marcia Brady. Not so much for me.)
As I drew closer, I observed her big blue-green eyes which boasted the longest lashes I had ever seen. I had already begun to question how fair God was at the age of 8, and this just created a whole new list of questions. My girl crush could have ended there except that when I heard her voice, it cinched the deal. It was like listening to an exotic bird.
"Are you new?" I asked her.
"Yeah," she said. Except when she said it was more like, "Yeyah-uh."
"Where are you from," I asked.
"Brooklyn." Except when she said it, Brooklyn sounded like the coolest place in the world because when she said it there were at least three or four additional OOOs in the word Brooklyn.
That borough of New York City lost its anonymity at that moment and I realized what a special place it must really be. Staten Island had NOTHING on Brooklyn, I realized.
To solidify our friendship I tried to sometimes mimic my new friend. When she had to go to speech lessons because she couldn't say the letter "r" at the end of her sentences, I also decided to go on strike against the letter preceding "S" in the alphabet.
"Four" became "Faw."
"Year" became "Yeay."
We also cursed a lot. But I don't remember whose fault that was. I think that one was mine, but I'll blame Brooklyn.
Danielle had a sophisticated taste palate. This meant she tried all the Indian food I put in front of her. I thought it was normal for kids to bring things like sesame breadsticks, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto and genoa salami in for lunch because that's what came out of her brown paper bag.
I went home and complained to my parents that I just wanted to be "normal" like my other friends. Danielle was not the only one of Italian heritage in the group and I lamented the fact that I couldn't have normal dinners like them. You know, like pasta e fagiole or homemade italian gravy. (Gravy is what real Italians call sauce. And it tastes NOTHING like Ragu).
As Danielle and I solidified our friendship over the years, I was often exposed to the wonders of her mother's amazing Italian cooking. I learned how to twirl spaghetti with the help of a spoon and it eat it the proper way under the tutelage of her Irish father. She was there to help my through my first crushes (always unrequited). I was there for her every time (it was frequent) a guy liked her.
I was a nerd. She was a cheerleader. I was a runner. She didn't like to sweat. I still hadn't gotten a hold of my hair. She could still walk out of the shower looking perfect.
It just added to the Brooklyn mystique.
I spent many a summer day cavorting in her in-ground pool (Could she BE any cooler?) and some of my best childhood memories are intrinsically tied to her. Some of my saddest as well. Some of my most embarrassing.
She saw boys call me terrible names. Names that sometimes made me cry. Tell me that I was ugly and brown, a nerd and that they would never date a Hindu. She hugged me through those and was my rock when I needed her.
I saw her have the worse nosebleed of her life as we were on the school bus one day with nary a tissue in sight and only our nasty ass gym t-shirts to stop the blood-flow. (She was 13 - no we did not do coke, although we had a preference for Coke Classic).
She has wiped my tears for me. I have wiped hers. At some point her tears are mine and mine hers.
I guess that's the best way to think about friendship.
She is my blanket in a lot of ways. My comfy sweater. The pair of jeans that always make me feel like a million bucks, no matter what fashion is in that year.
But don't get me wrong, she is not an outdated pair of Levis. She is 'still' smoking hot.
I saw Danielle a few weeks ago when I really needed an old friend. Seeing her and feeling the comfort from her hugs lifted me up on a day when I really needed to be lifted. When I saw her face that day, my emotions were free to come to the surface and we talked and talked - about everything, nothing and so much that means nothing to anyone but us - all at the same time.
She brought her two daughters with her and as I watched our children playing together and hugging and laughing with reckless abandon, I felt enormous joy in seeing both me and Danielle in the eyes of our children.
I felt a tug on my heart as I realized how special my bond is with her and how lucky I am to still have this friend in my life.
I hope that one day, our kids know that kind of friendship and that kind of unconditional love and support from a friend in their life. The friend who knows you knows your voice well enough to know when "I'm fine," is anything but. The friend, who no matter how much time goes by, is there for them.
Thanks for being my blanket, Danielle. I love you, old friend. No matter the distance between us, you are always in my heart. Your like a sister, from another mother (aw Fran, you will always be a kind of mother to me. You're just my italian mama ;-).
Thank you for always being a part of my life.
P.S. I wrote about Danielle a year and a half ago when she was going through a time where she needed to be lifted. I used an alternate name at the time to respect her privacy, but would like to let everyone know who read that post at the time that her youngest is doing immensely well and is just as precocious, lovable, independent and beautiful as we all prayed she would be. Thank you for your prayers at that time.
The following is a photo montage:
Our friends, Monica, Danielle and Me. Notice how she is still my friend despite the inappropriate use of camouflage as a fashion statement. She REALLY loves me. Monica? Not so sure - that's maybe why she stood on the other side.
Some of my favorite high school friends are in this picture. Gwendolyn, Karen, the one who is about to take flight in the center is none other than ME, Danielle, June, Becky.
Danielle and I are in the top right. Notice that the volume of my hair (naturally) is about 4 times the volume of hers. Its like I stole her supply of mousse for a year and decided to use it for that shoot.