Throughout those years I had two friends, Sue and Holly, who were allowed into my messy, confusing world. Both of them were busy single women who worked full time, hence my secret rendezvous with the Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer guy. I am not really sure what either of them thought of my poor housekeeping because neither of them seemed bothered any time I shoved a pile of laundry off the couch, so we could sit down for a visit.
Sue had been my college roommate. Along with another friend, Mary Jo, we shared a two bedroom, two story townhouse, which was located just a short hike across an abandoned graveyard from the university. Sue and I could not have been more different from one another. She was level-headed, studious, quiet and neat. I was none of the above. We ate a lot of Baskin Robbins, drank a lot of coffee, stayed up all night way too many times, sledded down the staircase on flattened cardboard boxes and forged a lifelong bond that still holds true to this very day. The fact that Sue loved me, and still loves me, is a testament to her longsuffering spirit. We shared the same bedroom: Her bed was neatly made with hospital corners on the sheets and topped with a color coordinated quilt and afghan. Mine was not. The clothes in her closet were hung neatly on hangers in separate sections. Mine were not. Her desk was neat, organized and equipped for actual use. Need I say this? Mine was crammed so full, and piled so high, that I usually pushed aside a pile of clothes and sat cross legged on my unmade bed to study. My messes, both organizationally and emotionally, did not bother her. She seemed not to notice the chaos that surrounded my existence when we were living together, nor did she give it a second look after I got married.
Holly is my oldest friend. I think we met for the first time when we were five. I do not know for sure when we first became friends, but I know we flew up in Brownies together because I have the Polaroid to prove it. In fourth grade we suffered through the same reading class, the intermediate reading group, with a crabby old teacher who spent her days rolling her dentures around with her tongue and pleading with God for retirement. We were too smart for the remedial group, but too busy daydreaming and talking in class to be placed in the top group. Holly and I always had that in common. We became best friends in junior high where we were seated in alphabetical order. Her name started with Mi and mine with Mo. Depending on whether we were seated A to Z or Z to A, the teacher was always looking at the back of one of our heads while we whispered and passed notes in class. We were Chemistry lab partners in high school, and worked together on the student creative writing magazine our senior year. Twiddlers and silly-hearts to the end, neither of us ever made first chair clarinet in band, or topped the honor roll, or got elected Homecoming Queen.