Monday, February 16, 2009


My oldest best friend. Her family immigrated to the States when we were in first grade. She was a tiny bit chubby, had thick thick glasses that made her eyes appear freakishly large, and spoke with an accent that, when she said "fork," sounded like something that made the other children run squealing to the teacher.

An instant friendship was born.

Her father had attended college in the states with the daughter of a prominent local family. This daughter inherited the family's oooooold brick mansion on a wooded estate, and (due to some arrangement which was unimportant to my young mind) my friend's family ended up house-sitting there for several years.

There was a gardener who sculpted the shrubs into exotic shapes; there were two sets of stairs, a balcony running around the great entryway on the second floor, metal windows with diamond matrices of tiny panes, a greenhouse, several bathrooms (the bathtub in one ended up housing the multiplying generations of pet mice who did tightrope tricks and chewed through cardboard oats containers), a DRAWING ROOM for goodness sake... it was everything my house was not. And it was delightful.

As you may or may not imagine, I was wildly imaginative, a trait my own mother probably cherished on some level, but in terms of daily living, she preferred her routine, her order. Everything was very meditated, planned, careful. And so my friend's house, centuries old and crumbling in some places, with endless square-footage, was an escape, an outlet. A wonder and a sanctuary.

(In fact, to this day, when I read fiction books, I will often find myself picturing the events transpiring at her first American address.)

I recently was blessed with the chance to reunite with her for lunch, a brief hour between her stay in Argentina and her round of interviews for PhD programs. It was fun to remember some of our old times. Like making "potions" and Rube Goldberg machines, spinning fantastical stories and poems and crafting pouches with harnesses to bring the guinea pigs up into the tree tops with us. Or the afternoon we pretended to be woodland fairies and live off of the land. We galloped around that garden, picking leaves off of assorted plants and consuming them, pointing out their various magical and medicinal properties to each other. That was really quite dumb of us, we recalled. We could have so easily poisoned ourselves and died.

What were we thinking? Why would we do such a thing?

Why not, I guess? We shrugged. We didn't die. Some people look at eating unknown botanical substances and ask "why?" while others look at it and ask "why not?"

This post is part of the Blue-Beta Blog Coordination, a continuing series of content coordinated by theme or motif with posts from Confuzzled of I Keep Wondering, Gromit of The Dancing Newt, Redoubt of Redoubt Redux, Third Mango of Funkadelic Freestylings of Another Sort, Xanthippe of Let’s Save Our Hallmark Moment, and Yarjka of Sour Mayonnaise. This week's theme: 'Imagination'.


Logan said...

Ditto with licking salt-tasting rocks in the desert -- why not?

That wooded estate thing sounds like heaven. I've never spent time at such a place.

Redoubt said...

That sounds like the best house ever!