In Walla Walla, 1992-ish
Setting the stage: It's the fall of 1985 and the beginning of my senior year of high school. I am embarking on my second year at Upper Columbia Academy in Spangle, Washington, a denominational boarding school. As a newly minted resident assistant, I am tasked with being at school a few days early and helping get new students settled into their rooms.
(Total side note: I had the dubious honor of looking after the girls of 1East, a wing of the dormitory that had window-to-ground access on one side of the hall--meaning, girls could crawl out their windows right into some flower beds). I had some rebel girls who appreciated that fact and would sneak out at various hours of the night to get up to no good around campus. Room check was a must for me; not such a critical thing for RAs who supervised girls on the second and third floors.)
OK, back to Corinne. She arrived, with her father, and I met them in the lobby. I think it was pretty random, how new students would arrive and be checked in, it wasn't like she had been assigned to me. So I look back now and think it was providential that we met that day, for sure. She was to live on the third floor, directly above my floor--something that would play into our nighttime shenanigans later in the year, as one quick stairwell run could get us to the other's room pretty quickly. I helped Corinne and her dad get her things up to the room and then stood around chatting for a bit (who, me?).
Hearing she came from Canada, we started down the shared background road, only to find out that our families knew each other "back in the day." Her dad was a bit cagey about how, exactly, but he knew my Grandpa, Frank Goerlitz, we figured that much out. (We have, in the intervening 30 years, still not figured all that much out about how our families interacted back in Alberta in the '40s and '50s (maybe earlier?), but we do know it wasn't all sunshine and roses. We have also decided we don't really care.)
From that first interaction, we began hanging out. I didn't have a roommate (one of the perks of being an RA), and I don't think Corinne did either. (She clarified this morning via IM that she had two in quick succession but ran them off and then got to room by herself. Smart girl.)
At our graduation in 1986, with my brother, Shelby,
who photobombed before photobombing was a thing.
After we graduated, it was a short hop down to Walla Walla College (now University) for college. And thus commenced the still-friends-but-not-so-close years. There were a few factors for this, not the least my globe-trotting ways and her new friendship with a girl I had been close to growing up. You know the thing about threes? Yeah, it was kind of true there, even if none of us wanted it to be,
Later, around 1990 or so, Corinne met her husband Brian through my first husband and I--he lived in our apartment building in Walla Walla. I think (I hope!) I will be forever in her good graces for that introduction. While they lived in their little love bubble, we did see more of her then, and our friendship continued, more couple-y, until they moved to California in 1996.
We met up in Palm Springs in 1997, when I was there for a work conference.
From 1996-2002 we kept in touch sporadically, checking in via email and phone maybe every few months or so, until I had my rough patch in the winter of 2002-2003. Corinne was the first person I called when it appeared my marriage was going south and I had no concrete idea what to do about it. Having someone not local to give me feedback, advice, and just listen was a lifesaver. We started talking almost daily again that winter, and probably got closer than we had been in the years between 1986 and 2002.
I will be forever grateful for her support and kindesses during those hard months, and her support and cheerleading when I started seeing my current dear husband a year or so later. During the few years when I was catering and she was doing wedding flowers (which she still does, most stunningly!), we would spend long hours on the phone while I was prepping food and she was prepping blooms. We covered great ground in conversation, definitely. From marriage and relationships to religion and parenting, as well as relationships with our own parents, we have talked through a lot.
Since then, we keep in touch much more consistently. I think technology is a big factor for that. Between phone and texting, instant messaging and Facebook, there's not a week that goes by where we don't see what each other is up to. If we go too long without actually speaking, it will be very common for a voicemail to show up from one or the other of us, entreating for a phone call sometime in the near future.
Celebrating C's birthday in California, 2009
It's lovely to have a friend who has known me for so long, who understands where I came from and who I am at a core level, and still loves me. It's rare, and I don't take it for granted, at all. Thirty years later, Corinne and I are very different people--I am sure we always were, but as teenagers we weren't fully formed and it was less obvious--but our shared values, history and love for each other overcomes any of the more surface differences.
On the train up the Hudson River Valley during our NYC trip last fall, for my birthday.
I think I was trying to get C to smile... or something.
I think I was trying to get C to smile... or something.
Thank you for your friendship, C. It's one of my greatest blessings.
Jen and I (and now my mom and Lisa too!) are blog challenging throughout September. You can catch her blog over at Stuff Jen Says. If you want to write along with us, give me a shout and I'll send you the blog prompts.