There is this pizza place on the island where I live that is decidedly probably hasn’t changed in 20 years. It’s the kind of joint you would see anywhere in small town middle America, which is not where I live. Nevertheless, it exists on my Pacific Northwest piece of island paradise. Recently, it beckoned. The owner is this buxom blond woman with sort of big-ish short curly hair, a pleasant face and a lot of make-up. The staff is mostly teenagers. They give you a cash discount. And their biggest claim to fame (only in my book) is their gluten-free pizza. If you have to rate it with other delicacies it probably wouldn’t even make the chart. If you can’t eat wheat and rarely have pizza—it’s pretty up there. It’s called the pizza from your childhood. And it makes you smile.
For some (unknown to either of us) reason, this pizza joint has become the go-to place for my girlfriend Crista and I. Even before I had kids when we used to have evenings with myself and my husband and Crista and her partner we would order pizza from this place and eat it at one of our houses. It’s mysterious. But it satisfies.
This night in particular it wasn’t the pizza that called. It was the beer— specifically the pitchers.
Ever have those dawning realizations where suddenly you notice A. you’re having a hard time and B. you haven’t seen or talked to your girlfriends in weeks? That was the case for me when I made my call to Crista that week. Right about that time I also made my Happy Motherhood Shortlist—which I have to say (proudly) I’m still applying.
Honestly, sitting down with a girlfriend telling her what is going on in your life, hearing her story AND her insights into your affairs is one of those sweet, sacred and essential healing balms of life for me. Thank god it exists, even if you do have to work to reach for it sometimes.
We had between the hours of 5:30 and 7:30 on a Friday night. I was waiting outside by the side of the road when Crista drove up to get me. I stuck out my thumb and then got in the car.
Crista and I have that kind of blissful no bullshit friendship that can also be very efficient when needed. Without conversational filler we put it all out there. It’s a kind of, “Here’s what is going on for me…. Okay, here’s what’s going on for me,” conversation. The moments discussing our personal challenges are peppered with moments of sheer delight. The latter usually follow a sip of frothy beer.
“Doesn’t this taste heavenly?” one or the other of us would add after a moment. Bringing our attention back to all the goodness that was currently going on and away from all the garbage rolling around in our heads.
“Yes. Yes it does,” the other would agree in solidarity and wonder.
That night we only had two hours but we made good work of it—getting down to the heart of the major matters, laying them out, and dissecting them for solutions and understanding all in the space of an hour. When I checked the clock to make sure that she wouldn’t be missing her appointment to pick up her daughter I was delighted to discover we were only an hour in and everything major for both of us had been covered. That left the next hour for goofing off, laughing at ourselves, and sharing the more stupid and laughable things that also happen in life, even in the most challenging times. The ones you can sometimes forget when you are in the thick of it.
“Do you want to hear the best thing that my mother said to me yesterday?” Crista asked.
“Yes. Please.” I replied.
“She said, ‘You know what grandma wants written on her tombstone don’t you?……….