Saturday, January 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Kari

With all this chatter about birthdays, I must note that my friend Kari celebrates her birthday on January 17. I thought it would be a great idea to make one of those online photo books and scan all the old pictures of us, starting when we met in fourth-grade Catholic school, standing on the playground in our plaid jumpers. I made my way to the shed in our backyard to dig through the boxes and locate the albums that document our 32-year friendship that has endured many ups and downs … but mostly the best ups of my girlfriend life.  I found a bevy of memories, places I’d forgotten and times I’ll never forget. I found photos of us cheerleading in junior high, attempting some shaky pyramid with her long athletic legs and my stubby short ones, side by side. Nice home-made uniforms too. And those pictures of the rundown house we rented one college summer, sharing the master bedroom, and smoking Capri cigarettes in the backyard, while listening to the concerts playing at the outdoor amphitheatre nearby. One night we listened to Midnight Oil, another night the Gypsy Kings. Staring up at the stars in our beach chairs planted in the dirt, just floating through our twenties.

I had to find the pictures of the day we went to the Del Mar race track … when we won over seven hundred dollars, so we drove to Las Vegas --  immediately!!! Why? Because, we could. We have shared laughter, Palm Springs road trips, broken hearts, music, various jobs and cars and we didn’t even realize how uncomplicated our lives were back then. She was so carefree, yet reliable and responsible, like she is today. Kari has always been a hard worker; whether it is at a hospital, in an office, running Gymboree or managing one husband, three kids and one large dog.
We have seen each other through thick and thin, literally, in a story only the scale can tell, and she even let me cut her hair back in the early 90s. That is friendship built on trust! Kari was a good sport about having her long permed hair trimmed at my urging. This only happened one time. There was a lot of laughing, and maybe some beer involved, in her precision cut that I faked the best I could. We both wore neon bikinis and hot pink lipstick when it was cool, and yes, it really was cool at one time! When my son was in the hospital, she took me to lunch to help me forget about my heartache for a while. She just listened to me and kept a very big ear. She still has big ears (She is a good listener, not an elephant!), and they work best when we are sitting on the couch without children running amok. It doesn’t happen often these days, but I know they will come full circle as soon as she raises her little one.
When I backed my Chevy Tahoe into a new car, I called her crying and she showed up with flowers later that day. That is the kind of friend she was and continues to be to this day. So thoughtful and so considerate, even now, when her life is in full swing, she still radiates kindness. When I am in the dumps she knows exactly what to do or say to pull me out. I was in a schlump in early December and she commiserated with me over the phone and the next day left tulips on my doorstep, just like a true-blue friend. She has such a tender heart, this Kari friend of mine. Some time ago she left a slice of both our favorite cake (white on white) beautifully wrapped on my porch. We both have this thing for sugar. Red licorice, big gumballs ... those sorts of sweets that lead to what she has termed “rock gut.”
By example she has shared simple ways to soften my rough edges and reach for my dreams. You know those amazing people that set goals and then actually see them through, no matter how much difficulty and sacrifice is required? She is one of them. She breaks down the mountains and conquers them one step at a time. I admire this quality. With Kari, anything is possible.
Sitting in the shed outside, I flipped through those frail, aging albums, jumping back and forth from decade to decade. I ended up sitting there sniffling with tears, as I walked down our memory lane of grade school, college, various roommates, boyfriends and marriages. Remembering how silly and goofy Kari is put a smile on my face. One of her nicknames I don’t use much anymore is “Crazy” because she is crazy fun to be with! She has always been a friend I can be myself around, no frills or makeup needed. She has seen bare naked me, as in, she was there watching and cheering when I birthed our second son. Reminiscing past dramas and remembering our present joys, lifted me up. I thought about what a centered mom she is, how giving she is of her time and talents and how she finds ways to feed her spiritual life. She gently leads those around her toward the Lord, and I love how Kari lives in the truth, seeking God at every turn. It always impresses me that Kari tries new recipes, even the really complicated ones I avoid. I can’t forget how she appreciates her husband, a healthy lifestyle and loves her dog Peyton, most of the time, even though she is nothing close to a dog-lover. She radiates inner and outer beauty with her wide smile and huge blue eyes.
 For whatever reason, on this morning sitting in the shed, I was at P.M.S. peak level (probably a 9.4 out 10, hence the easy tears) and my picture album launch came to a screeching halt before it even started. I became nostalgic, emotional and overwhelmed with the huge project I set before me that it ended right there in the cold, metal shed. However, by sharing with you this amazing friend of mine, I hope you understand why she is one of my life’s treasures. Those photos may still be boxed up in an old shed, but in my mind, and hers too I hope, they are in perfect chronological order, in vivid, 70s, 80s and 90s Technicolor clarity, with a soundtrack I know all the words to, hidden in my memory. To commemorate Kari’s birthday, in my mind’s eye, I am playing the perfect film of us growing up together and becoming the women we are today. It’s the best movie playing in town! Happy Birthday and I Love You Kari! Love, Crista Rose


Stephanie said...

Awww. That's BEAUTIFUL! How blessed you both are to have known each other all these years! You're both amazing and beautiful women and I'm lucky to know both of you. PS I LOVE the pictures...all of them!!!

Kari said...

Thanks Crista. I love you and the pictures too!