It gives me great happiness to write about my long time friend, Emma T. We had lunch today and, as always, it was long overdue. There are certain friends that you just CONNECT with. As we sit down, already engrossed in conversation, the waitress swings by to take our drinks. Our minds work in tandem – currently not working, 12:00 on a Friday – Cocktail menu, por favor! Emma turns to the laminated colorful drink specialty roll-a-doo-hicky and stops on the second spin.
“PEACHES AND MOONSHINE”, she exclaims. “That’s us!”
This is why I adore her.
What is even more telling is that I detested this same woman for years and dreaded meeting her. You see, Emma T., was “the other woman”. The woman, when you arrive at your new boyfriend’s (Roger) house (27 years ago), whose picture is up on the fireplace mantle, beautiful brown hair blowing in the wind while she nuzzles a horse.
The woman in the picture who, when you ask the new boyfriend, “Oh, who is what?” he replies, “Just a friend.”
Sometimes men are so freaking clueless. No man puts a picture of just a friend, who is a woman, with a horse, on his fireplace mantle. It is just not done.
Over the next year, details slowly unfold. Emma was a high school friend, they were in drama and musicals together. He adored her only to continue to be endlessly infatuated. For lack of better description, “she was the one that got away”. She also still lived in town, which was not big, around 65,000 people. Now in addition to feeling juvenile inferiority, I imagined turning a corner and running into her. I secretly looked for her residence on my runs. When Roger and I moved in together, her picture came down, but he kept it, and all of her postcards and funny notes with beautiful handwriting.
I was young. Women are crazy when they are young. It bothered me. I found out that the weekend we were engaged was the weekend they got married. We now had neighbors who were close friends with Emma and her husband, they now had kids. She even worked FOR the City in which we lived. Yet, after almost five years are paths never crossed.
Roger knew it was a sore subject matter, but would still make the classic thickheaded male mistake, “you know, if you met her, you would love her.” Fat chance. Never going to happen.
When I was approximately 6 months pregnant with our second child (our first second child), our neighbors were opening up a new boutique shop and having their open house. I was helping with food. It became clear that the delayed meeting was inevitable. Emma was coming. Great, I get to meet her and I’m 6 months fat. Just great. This was just fucking great.
The open house was a huge success. I’d made the best of my 6 months of fat in trying to look casual, yet sophisticated, calm yet a wreck (just add pregnancy hormones to anything and you can kiss sanity’s sweet ass good-bye). I have come a very long way in communication — being able to say I’m wrong, being able to say I’m sorry. It still sucks to have to tell certain people that they were right – even if they ARE your husband.
Emma was lovely. She was the casual, sophisticated, calm, absolutely lovely person I was trying to pretend to be. She also was a few years older than me which met she was already sorting through her young woman crazy. Yes, I liked her.
We ended up having impromptu brunches in our backyard with our neighbors and, yup, Emma and family. When Grant was born, she came bearing gifts, something small and perfect. So small and perfect that I put that beautiful little blue chambray GAP teddy bear in Grant’s casket two months later. We attended their house warming party, and then they moved down the street, in one of the most beautiful homes on Glen Drive. We were full-time professional women, with husbands, children and still in baby-making mode. We ended up doing family weekends at Russian River with other friends, absolute Shang Ra Lai.
I remember when someone (her old neighbor) fell out of Emma’s grace (she had, I believe, affronted her husband) but still had the nerve to call to ask to borrow wine glasses for an upcoming event that said neighbor was having. Emma’s reply was, “Oh, I’m so sorry, they are not available.” Which equated to the southern quote of “Oh, that’s mighty fine.” or here, in the Northern American parts, “Fuck you, kiss my ass, I don’t care if your guests drink out of a sippy cups.” She is a class act.
She’s talented – both professionally and artistically. She’s a mean seamstress. Really mean – like L–E-G-I-T. She can cook. She puts on a hell of a mystery party. She can take care of three children while caring for her 94 year old mother and husband who just beat stage 4 cancer and throw a citywide Casablanca party WITH Humphrey Bogart. She’s all that.
Throughout the years, we have shopped at the same stores, have the same taste in clothing and have children of similar ages. We most often order the same menu items. She’s scrappy and she’s fun.
So today, we sit, catching up over lunch, a pomegranate martini on my side and a Moscow mule on her side, lamenting life. Almost a WHOLE YEAR of catch up in 1 hour and 45 minutes. What awaits us next? Were we really meant for the careers that we chose or is there something more appealing for us out there? We have given up our egos for paying the bills, being caretakers, and wanting to be happy. No more shitty bosses, shitty deals, we’ve graduated to a new level.
Rest assured, regardless the outcome, I know this woman will have all of this and more. She’s one of a kind. She’s good people and I am so very proud to call her my friend. And I want her to know this – Anything you need. I’ve got your back. No questions asked. Unless you need money, because right now I’m a little strapped. Anything else it’s yours. It’s a wonder we don’t require bail money together. But when I break the bank with my national NY best seller, I’ll share.
Moonshine – I think you’re awesome.