Fire bottom friend and courage

In college, one of my very best friends was a flame-haired girl named Trisha. We met early during freshman year, two of the six girls who’d been transferred from other, less-preferred dorms, onto the all-boys fourth floor of the ever-hopping Bobb-McCulloch.

You can imagine that we were not dissatisfied with our placement.

We lived across the hall from each other, if memory serves. It might have been kitty-corner but it doesn’t matter because by winter break, we’d already been to her house in MN for Thanksgiving, tried to convince her Chicago-based aunt and uncle that we had ESP so tight was our bond, and smoked something fun before scarfing Lucky Charms and mooning over boys from her dorm room window.

Trish was always on the go. She was exercising, buying cases of Diet Pepsi and golden delicious apples (double yuck in my opinion), acing classes and taming that hair. Unlike me, she’d attended a terrific high school and didn’t find college all that challenging. I, meanwhile, was not studying hard enough to overcome the profound state of way-behind in which I’d arrived nor did I care because I was finally having ALL THE FUN.

I learned so much from Trish, and we have what feels like infinite memories of laughter, travel, tearful conversations of sharing and support, bad breakups, weddings, her allergic reaction from eating too much shrimp while visiting me in Louisiana, and that long-ago toke. One of the many nicknames I bestowed upon her freshman year was “Fire Out My Butt” (FOMB) because she always moved with such speed and purpose.

At Northwestern, which abuts Lake Michigan, beautiful paths wend around the water and through campus. We would often rollerblade along them on sunny afternoons (another thing Trish taught me), me always in her wake. Once, as Trish and her red curls flew ahead of me, we approached a spot where if you didn’t turn left or right, you’d go into one of the lake’s inlets.

“Right or left, Trish?” I yelled. Again and again. She didn’t hear me, because naturally, FOMB was far ahead and blissful in the breeze, and at the last minute, I had to dive roll into the grass to avoid a watery finish. The entire scene still makes me laugh hysterically.

FOMB and I remain dear friends and despite the fact that she lives in CA, we see each other as often as possible. Which isn’t that often and it’s never enough, but we make it work.

I’ve thought about Trish a lot during the past few weeks because she has always approached new situations and opportunities with balls. Even if she didn’t actually feel confident inside and like any realhuman, she has struggled at times with that, you can bet that’s how she came across. Confident, brave, ballsy. “Of course I’m going to try this.”

Recently, I have lived that mantra even more than I usually do. I’ve put myself out there in the vast writing world, scared but sure. I know my voice, I know I’m capable, and I know that you never know unless you try. Or ask. Or jump in. Or, even, dive.

I’ve received some really good news and much affirmation lately, and it reminds me that although there was also rejection therein, living large is kinda what this life is about, in terms of maximizing the hell out of it. Living with enthusiasm and confidence and hard work and chance.

California dreaming

The kids awoke at some ungodly hour (east coast time) but happily agreed to play Minion Rush until T and I had a decent amount of additional slumber. They also made breakfast for themselves and drew some fabulous works- awesome, boys! I love how artistic they are. Have I ever told you that I took art for many years when I was younger? Drawing, painting, charcoal, photography...I loved it all as long as I didn't have to draw faces. Egads am I terrible at faces; the noses I attempt always look like a terrifying combination of pig snout and butt. Alas.

Once we were up and at 'em, we drove into La Jolla village for coffee and goodies at Pannikin, a favorably Yelped joint on Girard. Jack was overjoyed to discover an enormous chess set in the back corner. We immediately set up camp there and played a few rounds while sucking down excellent coffee. If you're in the area, I definitely recommend this place. It's got a great vibe -very hippie SoCal in the best way- and is obviously very popular with locals. I have to say that we were underwhelmed with all of the baked goods we tried, but the egg dishes looked great and we plan to try a few of those next time.

One of the best perks of this trip is that Amy, one of my very best college friends, lives just 45 minutes north of where we're based. Since graduation, it's been hard to see each other frequently because she returned to CA and I've flitted along the East Coast. This week we'll have four lengthy visits, the first of which was five hours today. Bliss! We always settle back in as if the past years were a mere blip. Friendships like this are rare and inordinately special.

She brought her youngest, a delicious twenty month old, over today, and we all spent time on the beach (glorious), at a taco stand (fabulous), a playground and an ice cream truck. As we sat on a park bench watching our kids play together - age difference largely immaterial- the sun bathing our bare arms and legs with a constant stream of warmth, talking about everything in our lives from the most challenging to the very happiest, I dare say we felt an utter contentment and peace that, as with the sort of friendship ours is, isn't so common either. I only wish we'd gotten a photo of us today.

The Pacific is spectacular, more beautiful than I remembered. I love the moonscape shores, the stone cliffs, the succulents clinging and thriving in every nook and crag; their lushly hued green foliage and outrageously colored flowers enliven the gray bases off which they grow.