On Love and Bath Tub Drains

It is possible to live in two worlds.

It is possible to be deliriously happy and absolutely devastated at the same time.  It’s a bit like wearing an oversized sweatshirt with a pencil skirt, comfortable and too tight all at once but it’s the style of the moment so you sit in it and grimace and look fucking amazing while you do it because, what else are you supposed to do?

——-

Kyle was flipping pancakes and they fell smoothly into the pan as he turned to look at me and laugh. I was holding the phone really close to my ear, smiling, chatting, grateful to hear her voice on the other end.

“I’m the Samantha,” she said.

——-

Kyle and I were in full basic bitch mode when I got the call.  I always knew out of the two of us he would be the bridezilla, but I really had no idea how hard he could jam.  We were staging our own engagement photo, the photo to end all photos, and I had never been more proud.  I had made Kyle promise that we wouldn’t look stuffy or boring, to which he immediately suggested I be drinking a beer and wearing my favorite gray t-shirt.  The one which my niece lovingly referred to as “my nice jammies I wear to parties sometimes”.  I put it on with pride, and swiped on a little lipstick.

Let me tell you.  Kyle can stage a breakfast.  He should really be an Instagram Flogger.  Is that what food bloggers are called?  If not than, well… I guess I’m not really that invested. But I AM invested in that pancake stack:

 

IMG_0314——–

We used to lie around in high school and watch Sex and the City, the four of us friends, laughing at each other for being too Samantha, or too Carrie.  I was always the Charlotte because I was “such a square”.  It sounds like an insult but it’s really the truth so I can’t complain.  I once took a forgotten trash bag of beer cans home to recycle so my friend’s older sister wouldn’t get caught having thrown a house party.  I was very much the Charlotte.  No one wanted to be Miranda, probably because she ate chocolate cake out of the trashcan and wore terrible hats.  Regardless of distance, or religions, or relationships, or terrible haircuts, our friendship never faltered.  I don’t even think we would have stopped being friends if one of us had actually been a Miranda.  For the majority of our friendship we have lived in four different states, living different lives in different worlds, but we have always been comfortable in our friendship.  Like your “nice jammies that you wear to parties sometimes”, or your favorite hometown pizza.

We call each other to talk about the things that are devastating.  The things that are life-altering good.  The things that are mundane.  We share favorite songs, and resume tips.  We check in about haircuts.  We rarely cry, but we always know that we can.  We visit in the summers, or deep in the winter when no else will.  We meet over drinks on the holidays, squished between dinner with family, hugs hurried but lingering.  We have best friends back home that know the middle names of summer flings and the last book that we read, but that doesn’t shift the years of deli sandwiches and Rilo Kiley in the sun that we share.  Our friendship is different.  It’s solid on the edges and soft in the middle.  It’s flexible, and smells good, and lasts.

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It is possible to live in two worlds.

———

Kyle and I got engaged on a Saturday, while eating salmon.  I can’t remember how it all started except for the salmon, which is why our romantic story starts with a sentence from a Judy Bloom chapter book. But it gets better because it ended with Kyle playing me “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” by Louis Armstrong on the piano, and then we slow danced like it was the closing scene in a John Hughes movie.  We laughed the way people laugh when they are nervous, and in love, and happy.

And I knew I had made the right decision.

“I knew the way you know about a good melon.”

Afterwards we went downstairs to the bar below my apartment in our pajamas and baseball caps and had whiskey and called our moms because we wanted to celebrate, and because I hate wearing jeans, and because we didn’t know what else to do.  Just a few short weeks later we were in the kitchen, elbow deep in pancake batter and bacon, with my camera propped up on my coffee table so we could send out Save the Dates.

My phone began to ring.

“FIND MY PHONE!” I yelled to Kyle, giggling and jumping over the coffee table.  I absolutely never know where my phone is.  It’s something everyone loves to hate about me, but I find adorable and carefree, so fuck the haters.  He flipped pillows in desperation and threw some bacon towards me, trying to be cute in a messy way.  I missed the call in the bacon tussle but immediately called my dear friend back, throwing my head against the couch as I soaked in her voice, imaging the smell of her perfume.  A smell I’ve known and loved for 20 years.

“I’m the Samantha.” She said, “I have cancer.”

It is possible to live in two worlds.  To be deliriously happy and absolutely devastated.

I looked up as the world slowed down.  Kyle was flipping pancakes.  They fell with a thud into the pan as he turned to look at me.  His brow furrowed, taking in my expression.

——–

She and I call each other more often now, the way you do when you’re deliriously happy, and absolutely devastated and trying to figure out how to sit comfortably with both.  What else are you supposed to do?

I was holding the phone really close to my ear, grateful to hear her voice on the other end.

Sometimes we talk about the wedding and sometimes we talk about cancer.  There’s a delicate urgency in our voices like we want a minute together where everything feels normal.

What is normal?

This is normal.  This is the new normal.

Sometimes we talk about wedding dresses and sometimes we talk about chemo.  Sometimes we ignore the exhaustion of both and spend the afternoon trying to figure out how to clear a clog in her bathtub the way strong, feminist, women do.

It is possible to live in two worlds.

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