How do I begin to tell the story of a friendship that’s going-on-two decades long, where we’ve helped each other build the homes that have gone on to build us:
You’re ankle deep in the carnage that used to be a neatly zipped suitcase, rooting through piles of unfolded clothes, toss a swim suit aside, finally pulling a balled-up sock out from the bottom of the mess.
“You went to Vegas and brought an old sock back for me?” I tease. “Did you wear it while trying on a pair of Louboutins or something for me to experience vicariously?”
“Oh shush,” you snort, smiling, cheeks all sun kissed from your adventure in desert country. “I promise I brought you something better than a sock. Gimme a sec.”
I perch in the middle of your bed, on top of your psychedelic duvet, watching curiously as you unravelled the tightly wound red and white striped knee sock.
“Pro-Travel Tip,” you tell me, handing over the box that was at the middle of the sock-ball. “If you’re worried about the TSA finding something in your suitcase, pack it as enough of a mess that they won’t want to bother digging through anything. Don’t shake that, by the way.”
I turn the palm-sized package over in search of a label after accepting it from you.
Arizona Department of Agriculture Phoenix, Arizona
Bach’s Cactus Nursery Inc.
“You didn’t?” I read the label twice to make sure I’m not just imagining what I want it to say. “Just open it,” you cut off my babbling, shaking your head.
There’s a baby cactus inside— no bigger than a pingpong ball, just a tiny sphere of little spikes, planted in a clay pot painted to look like a scene from a cowboy movie— sunset, cactus silhouettes and all.
“Finally,” I deadpan. “A plant that my limited-sunlight basement apartment might not kill.”
“I found it at the Hoover Dam Gift Shop, of all places,” you tell me while I poke at the newest object of my affection. “There were two of them,” I turn to look at the window sill you’re pointing at; a twin of the cactus in my hand sits beside your bamboo plant. “They were just so cute, and they just looked so lonely...”
“I think it’s a he,” I confide. “And he looks like a Bartholomew.” “Bartholomew?”
“Yup. Bart for short.”
How do I tell the stories where we’ve saved each other over and over again:
[November 9, 2016]
Dude! There’s a guy in the next bed over that’s in here because he had a heart attack. Doctor just came in and asked if he was a smoker—
“No I quit.”
“When was that?”
“About ten minutes ago.”
I kid you not, Lynette, I think I heard the doctor snort.
“Ah, right. Why now?” “It was just time.”
lmao! I’m sorry. I shouldn’t laugh...
that’s really awful. But no time like the present I suppose.
Carpe Diem and all that crap :P
The guy on the other side’s a jockey, I think—
his friend is real tiny and walked by wearing the full regalia a few minutes ago.
Sounds like he got thrown off his horse (the guy, not his friend).
His friend keeps telling him to lie still until the doctor comes back with x-ray results.
Why are you at the hospital??
Weren’t you guys going to that trampoline gym tonight?
Did somebody fall?? Did Tim have another seizure???
No, no seizure— the boyfriend is fine.
...there was a peanut oil incident...
Rewind and WHAT? Are you okay?
Wait—no, dumb question.
Are you going to be okay?
I’m alive, and breathing on my own, and all that stuff.
Ambulance got there fast enough that I hadn’t had to use my EPI Pen yet
— they gave me a shot of the same stuff before loading me in, though.
It was an honest mistake.
The friends who made dinner for us knew I was allergic to eggs,
didn’t know I was allergic to peanuts...
They cooked the chicken in peanut oil.
Yup... I honestly thought they were kidding at first...
to be fair they felt reeaallllyyy bad afterwards.
And now I’m here, listening to the stories of how the people on either side of me landed themselves in the ER on a weeknight, willing away the hours.
How long do you have to stay?
They pumped me full of every antihistamine known to man,
made sure everything reacted properly,
and said that so long as it all continues to do so
I can leave after a few hours of observation.
Copy that... Do you two need a ride home later?
Tim didn’t come to the hospital with me.
...He went to the trampoline gym with his friends.
Mom can probably come pick me up once I’ve been released, though.
He just put you in the back on an ambulance and
went off to jump around on trampolines?
You know what, no.
You don’t have to talk about this over text.
read 12:22 am
...you’re there all alone?
Yup... just me.
I can come sit with you?
Seriously, the husband isn’t working, the car is in the driveway.
I can be there in 20 minutes.
Which hospital are you at?
Queensway Carleton, but don’t worry about it.
I’m honestly not even sure you could get into this
section now that I’ve been admitted and everything, anyways.
...But if the offer for a ride home stands?
You just let me know when.
Not just for this— for never abandoning me.
I will always come for you.
...since we’ve established that you’re going to live...
is it terribly insensitive for me to ask what it
feels like to be on all the allergy drugs at the same time?
no, that’s totally kosher. It’s kind of trippy....
How do I tell the stories of the moments where we’ve learned to just live in the stillness between the rhythms of life:
“Didn’t this used to be a popcorn ceiling?” I wave my hand in the vague direction of up from
where I‘m lying in the middle of your kitchen floor.
“Mmmm, popcorn,” you mutter, reaching into the bowl sitting between us.
We dissolve into another fit of giggles when you miss your mouth, scattering kernels onto the tiles around your head, chasing after one that somehow rolled down your shirt, and got caught in the cup of your bra.
We always seem to end up here— fuelled by cheap wine, or whiskey, whatever snacks we can dig up in the pantry, and sometimes weed on your half of the equation.
Tim appears and doesn’t even attempt to get us to move out of the way, just steps over the pair of us, stealing a handful of popcorn on his way to the back door— his evacuation route.
“Listen here you—that’s my popcorn,” You threaten, pointing a rigid index finger as menacingly as our current state will allow.
“You’ve done it now,” I warn without moving.
“Mhm,” he grabs another couple kernels. “Whatcha gonna do about it?” He doesn’t wait for an answer, just makes his exit as we burst into our next fit of cheek-splitting laughter.
He gave up trying to ask us what we laugh that hard about years ago— learned that by the time our legs gave out from laughing too long without a deep inhale in between, and the best sort of tears ruined all the work I put into the my eyeliner in the morning, we probably don’t even remember what started the outburst anyways.
You hiccup— I laugh— I snort— you laugh harder, and the cycle starts from the top.
Later were lie on your bed, on top of your haphazardly strewn [psychedelic] duvet, silently listening to the steady turns of the floor fan.
Not all soulmates are meant to fall in love, and screw, and burn from the inside out until they’re consumed. Some are just meant to be forever.
[December 16, 2017]
How do I even begin to tell the story of a friendship that’s going on two decades long, where we’ve helped each other build the homes that have gone on to build us, where we’ve saved each other over and over again, where we’ve learned to live in the stillness between the rhythms of life— where if you died I think I’d die right along with you, into 1,500 words and standard-width margins?
I hit send after spending two hours staring at my computer, with ten different introductions saved, none of which feel right. There’s too many damn statistics to even make a dent touching on how social media, rising unemployment rates, and all-time-high mental health crisis is impacting our generation’s ability to maintain relationships.
Studies show that 59% of male university age students and 70% of female university age students attest to feeling lonely at some point during the year (Beaudette). The “Canadian Dream” is changing too— with Toronto ranked as the 13th most expensive city to live worldwide, and Vancouver, Montreal, and even Ottawa on similar levels, the future for young Canadians
won’t necessarily include owning a home instead of longterm rental (Carmichael). This generation, my generation, needs to build our “homes” from memories and people, instead of brick and mortar.
Your response comes quickly, and you save me once again.
You'll manage that just fine because you know the exact right words.
You always have.
Beaudette, Teghan. “Nearly 70% of university students battle loneliness during school year, survey says.” CBC News, Sept 9, 2017,
Carmichael, Kevin. “For many young Canadians, home won’t be a house.” Macleans, Aug. 14, 2017,
< http://www.macleans.ca/economy/economicanalysis/for-many-young-canadians-home-wont- be-a-house/>
Growing up, Lynette told everybody who would ask that one day she was going to be either a Rock Star or a Writer. She writes a little bit of everything from song lyrics to creative nonfiction, and can usually be found with a guitar or pen in her hand. She’s still working on the Rock Star thing, but at least becoming a writer has actual job postings.