There are few things in life as wonderful as an old friend. There is no pretension. You can be yourself with an old friend. You never run out of things to talk about. Stories, jokes, experiences are mutually known, so there’s no need to explain anything. You can read the other person’s moods. You don’t need to ‘entertain’ an old friend. Best of all, when an old friend comes to stay for a while, she grabs a cloth and starts scrubbing down my kitchen cupboards without being asked.
Megan is the old friend I’m referring to here. She lives in Los Angeles, but we first met in Recife, Brazil, all the way back in 2007. She was my job replacement as an English/music/art teacher in an after-school program. Our assignments didn’t overlap but, after returning to Canada, I kept hearing from Brazilian friends about the eery similarities between us — both feisty redheads with strong opinions and a passion for forró (traditional dance of the northeast). I went back to Brazil the following year for a visit and that’s when we finally met — and bonded, of course.
Whereas some friendships would start with a spark and then fizzle out, we managed to maintain ours because Megan came to visit me in Toronto a year later. For one week, we biked all over the city during the daytime and partied like loucas during the nighttime, living off my student-budget groceries of bread and cheese to the point of severe constipation, remedied by alcohol. It was a good time.
She came back the following year, but by then my party lifestyle had calmed down significantly and been replaced with a seven-month-pregnant belly. Megan returned the next winter to experience Toronto in January. I’ll never forget watching her leave my apartment to walk along Harbord in a raging blizzard, just because she wanted to. During that visit, we bundled up my five-month-old son in the Baby Bjorn and did a lot of walking and hanging out in steamy-windowed cafés.
Megan came back for our wedding in September 2010 and the image seared into my mind is of her jumping behind the drum kit of the band we’d hired for the dance and rocking out, red hair flying amid drum sticks, to the amazement of the whole audience.
And now she’s back, visiting me in this corner of western Ontario. It’s the long weekend here, so the town is buzzing with energy. We woke up at the crack of dawn yesterday to hit up the garage sales but, since Jason is away all weekend, it meant loading up the kids, too. They were surprisingly patient as I sniffed out the best haul ever — a beautiful Bauhaus loveseat for the front porch, a wicker patio set, and cast iron chairs for the outdoor stone table, among other things.
Today we strapped the kids into the bike trailer and headed to nearby Southampton. After a kind stranger insisted on buying us all ice cream (the store only took debit and we only had credit cards), we asked a man to take our picture. He told A. to go stand beside his mom, then he stammered awkwardly and said, “Um, moms?” Megan and I burst out laughing for a second before I told the man that, no, we’re not a lesbian couple.
Tonight, we’ll share the bathroom as we get ready for a party. There’s something so satisfying about having another girl in the house, wandering around in our underwear with the music turned up as we share hair curlers, makeup bags, and style tips. It’s a girl thing…
Megan is here for another two days, then I’ll be dropping her off at the airport. As sad as it is to say goodbye, and as much as I wish she lived closer, there’s something wonderfully reassuring about knowing that our friendship is here to stay. We’ll be old friends for decades more.