One of my best friends in the world just called from her home, 3,000 miles away, and told me she’s getting married! I cried. A lifetime of friendship. And this is her first marriage.
We met when we were 19. I was a transfer sophomore and she was a freshman. We were training to be Crisis Counselors at the college crisis hotline called “Outreach.” We thought we could save the world. We became fast friends. The following year we were roommates. That didn’t go so well. We were the original female version of Oscar and Felix. You guessed it, I was Oscar. I knew I was in trouble when I saw her neatly arranging her earrings in her earring tree. But we had things in common. We named our rug after one of her ex-boyfriends so we could walk all over him. We had tickle fights because she reminded me of my sisters. But, we had our misunderstandings. Well, okay, we fought like cats and dogs. We tried to use our Outreach reflection skills to ease our arguments. “So, what I hear you saying is you think I’m a slob and I make noise at 3am when your sleeping.” “Yup! You heard correctly!” The reflections didn’t work so well. We didn’t think we would make it. But the little things held us together. Each of us would hold the other’s hair when we were drunk and praying to the porcelain God. We held each other when we cried over break-ups.
The next year I got a single, knowing I was not roommate material. She moved into a suite and somehow we made it through. We both graduated with Radio, TV, Film degrees, in the mid-80s. Her dream was the music industry, mine TV. She was the brave one. She moved to the Promised Land, Los Angeles, not knowing a soul. Me, not so brave, moved to Boston to follow a boyfriend. I worked as a production assistant at a small music video station a la MTV, she worked at an audio duplication company. Long before the days of Facebook and email, we kept in touch the old fashioned way, letters and expensive long distance phone calls. After said boyfriend and I visited Margie in the Promised Land, where I had a few informational interviews at my favorite TV shows, and saw the famous gates at the Paramount Lot, I was hooked. I left the boyfriend behind and followed her out there. We were smart enough not to live together, but we saw each other nearly everyday. I even honed in on her job at the duplication company as a night job while I worked as a temp at a television studio during the day. She didn’t mind. At least if she did she never said it out loud. She lived with two roommates in a two bedroom apartment in West Hollywood. I lived in a studio in the Valley.
Things were going well for both of us. At least, so I thought. At some point, Margie decided that she was tired of being broke and working at a dead end job. So, she made the tough decision to move to Florida and stay with her parents for a little while, save up some cash and come back to LA. I stayed in LA and went through a series of jobs and apartments. Always broke.
In Florida, Margie temped in a number of places and was fortunate to be placed in the video department at the electric company. Always planning on moving back to LA.
Unfortunately, life got in the way. Her wonderful father suffered a heart attack. While in the hospital, he was given a drug called TpA which was supposed to have allowed him a faster, fuller recovery. Instead, it triggered a debilitating cerebral hemorrhage that left him with right side paralysis, in a wheelchair and able to say only three things coherently; yes, no and son-of-a-bitch. He needed a great deal of help with daily living activities and was forced into an early retirement.
Margie’s loving mother took the roll as lead caregiver. Margie’s overwhelming love for her parents meant she could not leave Florida and she selflessly stayed to help care for them. Talented as she was she was promoted to Video Producer and bought her own condo, still planning on returning to LA someday.
Years went by. I met my future husband. Margie was a bridesmaid. My husband was a Naval Officer and we moved to Maryland, we had two kids. Many friendships wane when one has kids and the other doesn’t. But she was always supportive of the trials of a mom with toddlers. In some ways we could relate, she taking care of her elderly folks, me taking care of two little people who couldn’t pee in the potty or dress or bath themselves. She had a couple of boyfriends but nothing serious. She always said jokingly, that there wasn’t a large pool to pick from as the average age of people in her neck of the woods in Florida was half dead.
The loving person that she is, she attracted a lot of people to her and had many close friends, but never connected with Florida. She lived there for 20 years. Her mom passed on first. I made the trip to Florida to support my friend as she has always supported me. A few years later, her Dad joined her Mom.
Margie tried on LA for a month, before selling her place and wisely decided after so much time passing this was just not the place for her. At this point my family and I had moved back to my home in New York.
She moved back to the west coast that she loved so much, but it was just a little bit north of L.A.- like 900 miles north – to Portland Oregon. Like her move to LA, she went there not knowing a soul, but at least was now in the same time-zone as her sister and family.
She took to it like a duck to water. A very young, vibrant city, with beautiful mountains and greenery. Just the opposite of Florida. The climate was much more forgiving than a summer day in Florida. Like the greenery surrounding her, Margie bloomed.
She joined Meet Up Groups, took classes and met friends. She landed a good job at Portland State University. Then, as fate would have it, one of her new Portland buddies dragged her kicking and screaming to her not second, not third, but fourth Speed Dating event.
That’s the beginning of this lovely story. The fourth time is the charm. Speed Dating is where she met the love of her life. Margie has found her joy. She and her lovely man are getting married!!
Mazel Tov my old friend. We raise a glass to you!!