Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Laughing Sigh (The Happiness Challenge Day 21)

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you've probably noticed I mention certain names a lot. Maybe you've noted the many references to Tina. I have joked to her that I should give her an official title. In the cast of characters on my blog, she'd be "The BFF."

BFF sounds like such a joke, something preteen girls say to each other and don't really mean. BFF is a term that appears on cheap necklaces from Claire's, necklaces you might spend your allowance on during a shopping trip to the mall while you snack on a giant salty pretzel.

We often use the term BFF in a joking way, but underneath the laughter is this truth: We mean it.

Tina is there for me every day. Most days, because we have not lived in the same city in almost 20 years, support is offered via e-mail or texting. This month, when I've struggled with writing my happiness blog posts, she has offered numerous suggestions because she knows me so well. "Write about Calvin and Hobbes! Books! Last summer!"

She comments on all of them. "Love this!" "This is the best one!" "When I said write about the summer, I was talking about sun tans, sex, slutty-and-not-very-sophisticated, sultry fun in the sun with sea breezes. Don't be afraid to Jackie it right up next time. Sex sells, even the G-rated kind."

That comment alone contains a ton of inside jokes and inside information. "Slutty but sophisticated" is our favorite dress code for nights out. Jackie was Tina's alter ego in high school and it's pronounced like this: Jack-aaaaaaaaaay. Last summer was a lot of not-G-rated fun in the sun that was recapped for Tina in almost-daily e-mails or texts.

Yesterday I was struggling and she wrote this: "Write about your grandmother.  I bet she misses us hollering out the wrong answers while she watched Wheel of Fortune. Write about how we do that thing at the end of laughing where it's like a long laughing sigh or something and it makes us laugh again!"

In August 2009, when my ex-husband Charles committed suicide, Tina was in Cincinnati, where she'd lived since college. I spoke to her on the phone the day after but I don't remember the conversation. A lot of people talked to me. I don't remember any of what was said. Charles died on a Monday night. On Wednesday, I drove with my mother from Birmingham to Shreveport. When I was somewhere on I-20 West in Mississippi, I answered the phone and Tina said, "I'm here. I'm in Shreveport. I'll be here when you arrive."

She'd arranged the flight on Tuesday, got up early on Wednesday, and was there waiting when I drove into town that afternoon.

That week she was there for me in a major way, but please believe me when I tell you it is no more major than the way she is there for me every day of my life.

No, no, that's not Natural Light. It's soda.
We met in high school. She might remember how. It's slipped my mind now. I only have vivid memories of obnoxious behavior, lying out in the sun, quoting Whitney Houston's Greatest Love of All, commiserating over boys who were boyfriends and ex-boyfriends and then boyfriends again, singing along to Rico Suave in Katie Lang's red Jeep Cherokee, camping out with all our good friends in the backwoods of Louisiana.

A couple of years after high school, we spent a summer in Leavenworth, Washington, where my grandmother used to have a condo. My great-uncle owned a hotel and a bed and breakfast in Leavenworth, which is a tourist town with an Alpine village theme. Tina worked at the hotel and I worked at the bed and breakfast. We had our afternoons and evenings free. For awhile, we didn't have a car so we pulled a red Radio Flyer wagon behind us as we walked to the grocery store to pick up supplies.

Once we had a car, we drove to nearby Wenatchee to see movies. That summer, two movies were being filmed in the area. One night when we came out of the movie theater in Wenatchee, we watched a crew filming a scene from Surviving the Game in a nearby alley. We met one of the actors. We hung out with a member of the crew. On another night, I went to a party and met Ice T. I couldn't wait to get home and tell Tina. We slept in twin beds in the condo's master bedroom and we talked until we fell asleep each night.

One day we drove to Wenatchee and we both got tattoos on our ankles. Tina got a sunflower. I got a dolphin. Yes, we are a product of the times we grew up in.

I have been her maid of honor (twice). If I'd gotten married the traditional way, she'd have been mine.

We've been through difficult times together and apart and I much prefer the together times. There were a few years in our twenties when we didn't speak much. First we were upset with each other, then we were too far away from each other to remedy the rift. I'm not a fan of those years. I often say that the worst break-up I ever had was with my best friend in the early '90s.

But we figured it out. We grew up a little bit. We experienced more of life and found that these experiences were easier to bear when we had each other to lean on. When something broken is healed, with love and understanding, it is always stronger than before.

Tina and I often joke that we will be sitting side-by-side in rocking chairs at the old folks' home, cracking jokes and cackling helplessly.

"You two find each other hilarious, don't you?" Tina's mom said to us when we were in high school. Yes. We do. It was true then and it's true now. I hope it will be true in another 20 years.

Happiness is having a friend who knows all your secrets, who laughs at all your jokes, who believes that you deserve all the best things in life. Happiness is knowing that your best friend wishes she could give you everything you want from life, that she wishes she could make life easier for you. Happiness is wishing you could do the same for her.

Happiness is knowing that life already is easier simply because you have her in your life.


Read more from my friends participating in The Happiness Challenge: 

5 comments:

  1. Yay! I love this! Love you, love Tina, love happiness!

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  2. Since everyone is waiting with baited breath on how we met..I'll put it to rest here for all your fans. Amy and I met at Adrian Nadeaus moms townhouse(house party woot woot), the summer before my sophomore year, her Junior year in highschool. Our boyfriends, were good friends, so they introduced us. It was the end of the summer and we were smoking hot tan. OH YES WE WERE. I had just come back from Hawaii and she had just returned from Indiana, I believe. We started talking about how tan we were and the friendship has lasted now ..what 22 years.

    I love all your posts, especially this one. Not because its about me, OKAY..YES BECAUSE ITS ABOUT ME, but more so because its a perfectly honest post about our friendship, true to heart. I feel the same way about you..You know I do. How the holy hell have we gone this long with out BFF necklaces? I LOVE YOU AMY B thru and thru

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  3. Love this post - and just to clarify - Katie had a grey jeep wrangler, I had the red jeep cherokee and we all jammed out to Rico! Love the camping pics and the blog Amy B and love Tina K!

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    Replies
    1. Katie still had a red Jeep Cherokee when I was at Byrd. Don't forget how much OLDER I am than you. I'm practically elderly.

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