Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Yennifer, my Sister from God

They say that if at the end of your life you can count your true friends on one hand, you’re lucky.

I don’t know who “they” are, where that quote originated, or how badly I just butchered it. But it’s true, isn’t it? We have acquaintances, and we have friends. And then, if we’re lucky, we have a few of those lifelong, tried and true, there for you no matter what, there for the good times and bad kind of friends.

Yennifer is mine. I’m calling her Yennifer for three reasons: 1) I know she won’t sue me if I call her something close to her real name, 2) I called her this once in an article, years ago, and she loved it, and 3) She bartends at a Mexican restaurant so she’s used to being called “Yenny”, anyway.

Junior high is a miserable bitch, isn’t it? Almost overnight, we go from being kids to having hips, pimples, hormones and, if we’re lucky, boobs. I had all of the above, plus a weight problem, braces, and a perm gone horribly, horribly wrong. Since every 12-14 year old goes through this awkward phase, you’d think they’d all be supportive, right? You’d think junior high would be a positive environment where everyone shares their Neutrogena and deodorant with an attitude of, “We’ll all get through this together.”

But it’s not. It’s a pubescent prison. It’s a few years of back-stabbing, name-calling, bullying, and all the other bullshit that comes with being forced to act like a cool grown up when you’re still just an insecure kid. To top it all off, as a reward for surviving these years of turmoil, you’re presented with…. high school. If junior high is the Queen Bitch, high school is the C word. If you don’t have a few friends to help you survive your teenage years, quite frankly, you’re fucked. By the grace of God, I had Yennifer.

I met her on the first day of seventh grade, which, in my city, was the first year of junior high. I had four of my six classes with her, plus lunch. God totally wanted us to be friends, right? Also, she had a No Fear shirt on and carried a Jansport backpack, so she HAD to be cool. Every single one of us had one of those fricking Jansports. What minions we were.

By the end of seventh grade, Yennifer and I were the best of friends, and it’s a friendship that has lasted fifteen years. And let me tell you, they have been fifteen kick ass years. Even when we were the definition of dorky, we had so much fun together (along with our other BFFs), we actually managed to feel cool in our size 13 jeans. They were years of betrayal and heartbreak- let me just say it again, high school sucked. But they were also years of Alanis Morisette concerts, slumber parties, McDonald’s trips, carnivals, phone calls, a group diary we called The Book, ice cream at midnight, watching Friends, celebrity crushes, and one attempt to get drunk on New Year’s Eve off bottle after bottle of sparkling cider.

The few happy memories of high school I have (I know, I probably need therapy) are thanks, in part, to Yennifer. Our friendship wasn’t perfect, but there was nothing we didn’t forgive each other for and nothing we didn’t help each other get through.

Looking at Yennifer today, there’s no sign of the round-faced little girl I grew to love. She’s thin, gorgeous, and confident, and the best part is, she doesn’t realize just how gorgeous she really is (at least, not until she’s been drinking). But when she speaks, the presence she’s always had shines through- the spunky, witty, sometimes snarky but never mean attitude I know and love. There’s nothing she and I can’t tell each other. We both know way too much about each other to ever judge. We know that, deep down, we are good people, so who cares if we make mistakes along the way? I tell her everything, including those cringe-worthy secrets that would make sane people run away in fear. She does the same to me. If she and I become famous, our attorneys would place automatic gag orders on each other if it was necessary- ‘cause we aren’t blabbing for any amount of money.

Yennifer has been such a constant part of the majority of my life, it never occurred to me just how amazing it really is and just how lucky I really am. Then, on Thursday night, we had one of our many Girls’ Nights. Joined by her sister, a mutual friend from high school and one of our local friends, we rented a limo (sparing us the daunting task of designating a driver) and headed to a Taylor Swift concert.

Taylor captures young love issues with more maturity than a woman twice her age. As she stood onstage, belting out tales of unrequited love and pictures to burn, I looked over at Yennifer, Mike’s Hard Cranberry Lemonade in hand, and realized- we have lived these songs. We have lived them, and we have been there for each other through all of them. We have more inside jokes than pairs of shoes. And that’s pretty amazing.

These days, we eat more salad and hummus than McDonald’s and drink more wine than sparkling cider. Instead of slumber parties, we go to Vegas, where we take shots of Patron at 3 PM (me) and single-handedly transmit a head cold to four cities and two continents (her). But deep down, there’s still a little bit of that spunk that drew us together in the first place. This was evident on Thursday, when we stuck our heads out of the top of the limo and belted out “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Yennifer was the maid of honor at my wedding and, should Mr. W and I ever breed, is the leading candidate for godmother of our spawn. I have no doubt that we’ll be those old ladies you see wearing way too much perfume and jewelry drinking flavored martinis at 11 am.

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