Today I iced cookies with my best friend from high school, Miranda. That’s the thing about moving away from home — you get to return. I only see Miranda once a year, when her Slovakian mother overfeeds me cabbage rolls and beef on the bone, and we try and out-shock the other with news of who’s had a baby. We’ve changed but we haven’t. A good metaphor for our difference within sameness might be her family’s new Golden Retriever, Austin, the spitting image of their last Golden Retriever, Merritt. Miranda and I are new selves but we still look a lot like two girls in stirrup pants passing notes in Mr. Currie’s French class. In the front row.
There is no one in the world like Miranda. Miranda, who bought a penny colored Honda and named it Cent. Miranda, who took off for the Brazilian Rain Forest and devoted herself to Santo Daime and learned to prepare Ayahuasca to commune with God. Miranda, who doesn’t own a microwave because she believes food has a life force. Miranda, who last August moved to Hawaii with her boyfriend, who lives in Pa’auhau and talks to soil and uses a walking stick to prop up her tomato plants and teaches phonetics to four year olds in her living room, who owns one chair, who last week ran through a fern forest and made an offering of cane sugar to her local volcano. She’s afraid coconuts will fall on her head. She hitchhikes to Hilo. Miranda, who today informed her mother that she plans on making a dress out of her kitchen apron by merely adding a zipper. Who patiently explained the uses of quartz and kava, who tried to fly a kite over a lava steam jet. Who has friends with names like “Moon Heart.”
I live in New York City. I spend an hour a day underground, where I sometimes pick out patterns in black slush, the urban equivalent of cloud-watching. I eat meat. Lot’s of it, and usually accompanied by harmful nitrates. I have little patience for children who can’t yet talk. I would never offer cane sugar to anything, and even if I did, it would be the highly processed packeted kind. I don’t pray in Portuguese. I don’t pray in English. I think Moon Heart is a questionable name, even for a celebrity perfume.
And somehow, without ever having to drink a vision inducing narcotic from a bark bowl, we have everything in common. We click. It’s the kind of click that guarantees the other a spot as a bridesmaid — even if my spot will involve bare feet and a shell necklace. I’m beginning to understand why aging is so beautiful. Tonight, we sat on Miranda’s bed and read through old love letters from her college air-force boyfriend. She’s decided to recycle them, to travel light. To built a Hawaiian future with her new partner. I can’t even toss out the Wriggley wrapper Bear Mitchell gave me in third grade at a football rally. I’ve kept it all these long years. But Miranda will never get rid of our past. Some of it you can hold in your hand, like the boomerang I sent her our Junior year when she studied abroad in Australia (I wrote our names on it and said “So you’ll always come back to me”), and some of it is intangible. It’s simple memory. It’s the trip we took to the Dry Tortugas and the weed we smoked outside of the Civil War fort and the songs we sang making snowless angels on the abandoned helicopter tarmac.
My family is eating Christmas dinner at Miranda’s. It’s one of my favorite days, and I’ll be sure to post a picture. Happy holidays to all my readers!