You were the teenage kid that joined our church after your house was destroyed by fire. Your family moved from the suburbs to the city, and our church helped your family recover.
You had come to our church several times and even though we were close in age, we hadn’t really talked.
One Sunday, I sat down next to you and struck up a conversation. I believe I told you that your dad’s singing voice was worse than that of my own father’s, and that was saying something. Having to sit next to either of them during church was like punishment. We both agreed. We also agreed church sucked, and then we were — as they say — fast friends.
I remember the first summer we hung out. You lived two blocks from me. We would sit out on your front porch, eat pizza, and laugh until curfew. We would take long walks at night around the neighborhood. We talked about boyfriends and talked about sex and bitched about religion.
You needed a job, so we lied about your age to get you a job at the 50s diner run by that crazy Greek lady who slept with a gun under her pillow. When we worked alternate shifts, one of us would stay late or come in early to see each other. We fed our hard-won tips, quarter by quarter, into the jukebox. To this day, I cannot hear “Easy Like Sunday Morning” without thinking of you.
You showed me your diary, which was pretty brave of you, considering a) how shy you were and b) how much fucked up stuff it contained.
When I lost complete control of my life, you and I got separated. Our lives went in different directions. You moved to State College, and I stayed in Philly.
We lost touch.
I felt so incomplete.
What seemed like an eon later, I ran into your mom and she gave me your address. I wrote you letters and you responded to all of them. You had moved to Maryland near D.C., you said. You had met a wonderful guy you knew you were going to marry.
You came to visit me the next time you visited your parents. The first time we saw each other, you hugged me til it hurt, and said, “This feels just like coming home.” I felt the same way.
Then you ate almost all of my bacon pizza.
But I didn’t hate you. I was happy to have you around, even if I had to share my bacon pizza.
Since then, we’ve never lost touch.
We hung out at Philly’s best dive bars and sang our hearts out to good music and bad music alike. We had each other’s backs when we got out on the dance floor. You’ve got the moves — I’ve got the awkwardness. I definitely got the short end of this deal.
We watched “Office Space” like forty times and tried to do the disk hand-off scene while drunk. It was a disastrously bad reenactment which ended with us falling into the kitchen chairs laughing ourselves silly.
We went camping with a bunch of crazy boys in October and zipped our sleeping bags together to stay warm. I had eaten a ton of beans and dutch-ovened you and you kicked and screamed and laughed in protest. Karma’s a bitch, because later that night I had to hang my ass outside our tent to pee in the freezing mountain air.
You gave me my nickname: “Es.”
We both got married, and we both served as each other’s “m” of honor.
On my special day, you drove like the wind to pick me up from my makeup and hair appointment. I was a little bit afraid of you, because coming at me, you sort of looked like the witch from the Wizard of Oz, teeth clenched, flying up Ridge Avenue.
When it was your turn, we drove all over Maryland to find the perfect wedding cake. We picked out your cake, then ate half a dozen kinklings on the way home. On the day of your wedding, you handed me a box of flowers and told me to “decorate the cake” with them. I said, “Ummmm…” but I did my best. I’m still not sure how many people ate flower stems with their cake, but there were a few.
You helped me deliver my first child. “Hold a leg, Liz, I can’t move anything with this goddamned epidural.” You were one of the first people to welcome my daughter to the world.
I drove 80 miles in an ice storm to go to your baby shower. I made fun of your swollen ankles, and later, I felt bad.
When someone close to you died, you called me and I knew at once by the tone of your voice that something terrible had happened.
On the day he was born, your firstborn son gave me the stink eye when I visited him in the nursery. I will remember that day — and his expression — until the day I die. When your second son was born, I brought you Krispy Kreme donuts in the hospital.
When I divorced my ex-husband, you were the one person that knew my decision was not irrational. You helped me move into my new place.
We never fight about anything, except for food preparation. After the pie crust incident, I learned to steer clear of you in the kitchen. When we do have to cook together, I say, “You make this here and I’ll make that over there, and we’ll get twice as much done in the same amount of time… and still like each other.”
When I go to D.C. for conferences, I skip the optional evening events and spend every spare moment with you. One night we enjoyed incredible Indian food together and then I had to go to the bathroom. A lot. You never judged me.
Last year, we planned to spend the day in Annapolis together and your babysitter bailed and you called me, crying. I told you to bring your kids anyway, and that we’d make the best of it. We were equally miserable, and the boys drove us crazy, but at least we were together.
We’ve been in each others’ lives consistently for about 21 years. Not a day goes by that I don’t email you, text you, or send you random crazy memes. When my beau asks why I text you about “EVERYTHING” I tell him, “Because she’s my bestie.”
I can count on one hand the number of people I trust unconditionally, and you’re at the top of the list. You have never given me a reason to question your character, your ethics, or your unique perspective on life.
While life twists and turns and we get older, I know I can count on you to be strong, and you can expect the same from me. A long time ago, I told you I’d be there for you no matter what, and that was a promise.
You have given me so much by giving me your friendship. It has meant everything to me, and I sometimes wonder if I could ever be as good to you as you have been to me. I’m so, so proud to be your bestie.
I sometimes wonder what life is like for others that don’t have a Lizzie Lizzums in their lives.
It must really suck, like church.
Esther Hofknecht Curtis, MSM-HCA is a freelance writer living in Dover, Delaware. Follow her on Facebook — go to https://www.facebook.com/TheArdentReader19977/