Monday, May 30, 2016

Dear Oregon: On Change

Dear Oregon,

Why did your western side have to be so green and wooded? Why did Portland have to become this beautiful food mecca, full of insane donuts, ridiculous ice cream, and white truffle oil fries? Why does your cost of living have to be comparable to here? Why do your jobs have to pay so much more?

In short, why did you have to be so wonderful that my best friend decided to move there?

I understand, Oregon, that in writing this I may alienate some of my other friends. That's not my intention and it isn't about that. It isn't like I don't have other amazing friends. I have friends that have moved away before, and we friendship other from afar. We visit, and call each other, and the distance doesn't make a difference. Really, I'm so blessed.

And I know, Oregon, I know, that life is about change. I know, how many people live within 20 minutes of their best friend from high school for 15 years. And while we're on the subject, how did that happen?

15 years? Really? Indulge my sentimentality, but we were just there dropping Peeps on doorsteps, being disruptive in AP European History (which we still cringe about because we were never disruptive in any other class). All those drawings about putting our eggs in one basket, and eating hamburgers until we're fat as we want to be!

We started college together. We've started and quit jobs. We've been through three weddings, one divorce, and six babies. We've discussed the ridiculous political scene, the regrets and joys of being a working mom, the regrets and joys of being a stay-at-home mom. There's all the stories about the ridiculous people she meets, or the new shows that I should watch on Netflix that I'll never watch because I still don't have Netflix.There's been races run, shameless dressing up for free Chick-fil-a, baby blessings, birthday parties, and so many conversations about the virtues of baking with butter.

And Oregon, it isn't like our friendship is something from out of a movie, at least a chick-flick. It is more like a B-rated student film festival movie. We don't have girls' weekends, or stay up late painting our toenails and eating cookie dough. (If we eat cookie dough, it is during the day, thankyouverymuch.) We don't go shopping together and we rarely discuss fashion. Instead, we discuss food...a lot. There have been moments of annoyance and insecurity. There have been months where we don't see each other or talk, and then one of us pops out of the abyss and we don't say anything about the absence because these 'breaks' are part of our normal, comfortable cycle. You know, like, whatever.

At first I thought I didn't have pictures of the two of us since high school. I was wrong. I just had to check her Facebook feed. I still don't have a smartphone and rarely carry a camera. If the event was documented, it is because Alicia took the pictures. But some of the most beautiful pictures are the ones she took of my kids on the slip n' slide, or at the park, or as a newborn, so neither of us make it in the shot.

And Oregon, the significance of that absence is real. She's usually the one behind the camera because she's better at the photo thing. So when major life events come, she takes the pictures. Every baby blessing, all the over-the-top birthday parties in my backyard which end up following the same essential pattern (themed food, a few relay games, and the trampoline).

So, she's not in the picture because she is taking the pictures. The fact that there are pictures proves that my best friend was there. So, in a way, she is the picture. And I am terrified of the day that we will finally, purposefully, take a picture with the two of us in the same frame, with our hair done, not dressed as cows, not at a child's birthday party, because the only reason we would take a picture like that would be because one of us might not be there for the next major event. And I don't really want to think about that.

And soon everything we do will gain significance because it might be "the last." The last lunch date/blog planning/catch-up session, the last play-date for the kids, the last game night, the last time we share a baking success or excess of treats. Soon I'll make that last horrendous hike from the parking lot to her apartment carrying a heavy baby. What do I do with that responsibility- of marking "the last time"? I don't like that kind of weight on everyday occurrences. Probably we won't do anything about it, and we'll downplay the fact that these little things are important. I'll cry at my house, she'll cry at hers.

But what in the world do you do to celebrate the end of an era? How do you appropriately mark it? Maybe in all your wonder, Oregon, you have a good idea? Pass it along if you do, because I'm at a loss. That's really the problem. And I'm filled with this sense that I haven't given as much as I've received. Do you know what I mean?

So, Oregon, this isn't just about you. You're the unfortunate scapegoat. And this isn't just about my friend and me. It is just the beginning of summer and people are graduating, moving on. This is about losing a bit of what is good and familiar to something unknown. This is about marriage, divorce, death, and birth. This is about parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, boyfriends, girlfriends, and neighbors. This is about the fact that in 6 years my daughter will be 18 and ready to do all the "grown-up" things that my friend and I have done. Ultimately, I think it is about the assurance that change is the right thing for someone you care about, but not seeing clearly how it is right for you because it isn't about you. So it hurts a little bit.

Maybe things won't change at all. But some things will. I know it. I can call her. I know there's still Facebook. I know I can come visit. Maybe a visit will be best because she's promised to show me all the reasons why she loves you, Oregon. So, maybe then I'll have a reason to love you, too.

You know, new memories with an old friend.

Cheers, Oregon.



  1. I cry every time I read this. I keep trying to think of something clever and eloquent to write in response, and I just can't. Thank you for your beautiful words. You are the truest friend I've had in my 33 years, and you have been my family, even when my own family left me. You have loved and cared for my children, celebrated our joys, and mourned our losses. You always seem to understand what I mean, even when I can't express it in words. You've put up with my neurotic, emotionally stunted, perfectionistic self for eighteen years, through boyfriend drama and newlywed drama and new parent freak outs. You are one of the few people I know I can always count on, and the first person I want to tell any good news. You are my sister, and I love you.

    This change has been a long time coming, and it's both exciting and terrifying. I don't know what the future holds, and how things will change, but I do know that you are one of the foundational pieces of my life, and one that I could never bear to lose. Our friendship will evolve and keep growing, because this is the lifetime kind of friendship. The kind that transcends geographic locations and lasts across years. And one day we will be old ladies, still laughing about TJ slamming his fist into the wall in AP European History, and telling each other "I've BEAN meaning to call you!" You are always in my heart, and moving two states away won't change that at all.

    1. Now I'm crying and laughing because I know EXACTLY the face you will make when we are old ladies saying "I've BEAN meaning to call!" Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you guys, and I am excited for your adventure. Enough tears. Let's eat something!

  2. Oh, Cort! What a great tribute to your friendship with Alicia! Beautifully are still our special girl! Love you....Kathy

    1. Thanks for reading, and for the sweet note. Such familiar emotions. Love you guys, too.

  3. What a beautiful note! You and Alicia are lucky to have each other!!!

  4. I am jealous of this awesome relationship with our awesome mutual friend Alicia. I mourn for your loss as I have felt a loss for her as well since I moved from Utah. But now I know she didn't feel it as deeply because she had you. I am so glad that she has such a sweet caring friend, that she could go to for everything. It is hard to find those deep relationships that you just know that it started before this Earth. I really loved how you said at the end new memories with an old friend.