Saturday, May 4, 2013

Moe is 40!

She was the "new girl" at my high school. Pretty, blond, quiet. I think we might have chatted a time or two during Family Studies class, but I didn't know her, as a friend, when we were paired up for a project.

Our task - at the age of 16, in 1991 - was to visit a group in Toronto (the "BIG city" then, to my small-town, teenaged mind) that supported women seeking an abortion. Tentatively, as we made our plans and got permission from our parents to drive to Toronto, we became closer; chatting on the phone, spending time during the lunch hour hanging out by my locker.

Her name was Tracy, but I called her Moe. Still do. In fact, for years and years, my parents had no idea of her real name, assuming it was Maureen.

Me, Jen, Moe and Mel: Prom. Happy. Young.
Holy crap, look how YOUNG we were!

Anyway, in Toronto one Spring morning, we found the building, the floor, the people we needed to speak with. Armed with spiral notebooks, questions and nerves, we sat down with the staff, prepared to learn how to best support a woman who had made a difficult decision.

Suddenly, Moe shot up out of her seat and fled the room. I blinked in surprise and turned wide eyes to the women gathered near. "Uh....I don't know what she's doing. Sorry. I'll just ask her questions, OK?"

Even as I stammered through and tried to focus on the answers, I wondered where she'd gone, worried that she had. Began to feel sweat trickling down my back and then suddenly, I couldn't see. The room narrowed and then pitched and I knew that I HAD to leave. I tossed a quick "Thanks so much for your time!" at the bewildered staff and staggered from the office, blindly.

Felt along the cool wall of the hallway, knowing that an elevator waited nearby. All I could think was, "If I can just get outside, I'll be OK."

"Moe?" I croaked, pressing my face to the wall, sinking to the blessedly hard floor, terrified that I was having some kind of seizure, maybe a stroke.

"Here," she whispered, mere feet from me, huddled on the floor, too.

"What's happening?"

"I don't know. I just had to get out. I can't see!"

"Me neither!"

And we burst out laughing, groped for each other and held on tight. Eventually, my sight returned and hers did, too. Weak-kneed and trembling we made our way to the elevator, for all the world looking like two drunken tarts leaving a bar at last call.

Back on the street, we gulped in as much fresh air as we could, still clinging to one another and giggling.

19, at the airport, waiting to board my plane west...

Today, my Moe turns 40. Almost 25 years later, we still cling to each other and laugh like crazy - at stuff that's funny, at stuff that really isn't, except to us:

Between us, we've loved the same boy (that was awkward, but it's funny now) had four children, a few broken hearts, some husbands, some weddings, lost our minds, ourselves, each other. Her son was born on my wedding anniversary, my son was born on hers.

Me and Moe, October 4th, 2003

We've driven miles to hang out for a few hours, spent countless more on the phone, laughing inappropriately. We have cried, we have fought, sobbed with and for, hugged, fed, snuggled and propped each other up. She is my touchstone, in almost every memory I have and the keeper of my deepest, most delicious secrets.


All these years, you've had my back, even when - perhaps especially when - I didn't have yours. You are loyal and kind and funny as hell. How I love that you have known me for all the person(s) I've been and that I have known you for the same. This friendship took root when we were mere children and I am so lucky to say that it has grown - as we have - into a wondrous, rich and layered one. 

That our children will know and discover the world together - as we did - makes my heart happy. Thank you, for all of it: the past, the present, the future.

Mostly, thank you for and long drives to nowhere and the journey to here. For calling me, for taking my call even when you're mad, for making me laugh so hard I stop breathing. For snuggling with me, pouring me baths, sending me your book drafts, trusting me with your heart, your fears, your dreams.

You are my Moe-Moe. You are 40. You are fabulous.

And I love you.


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