Saturday, February 25, 2006
Then & Now
My college roommate was in Portland this week to buy a $23 million office building. Yep. To. buy. an. office. building. The most dramatic purchase I have made recently, that I wavered and hesitated over, was... er... well, there was a pink & purple brocade coat, but I ended up not buying that, even though it was on sale... and then there was the $10 bottle of glucosamine for our limpy old dog's joints and I thought that was a bit pricey... and it did seem like quite a splurge to buy that travel guide to Mexico on a wild whim... Nope, I can't quite wrap my mind around buying an office building. Jim joked that all other purchases must seem very trivial by comparison: new Mercedes? Feh! Give me two! To be sure, Julie wasn't spending her own money, but the money of some consortium of unseen millionaires. She made some reference to having trouble sleeping,.. Er, ye think?
Julie and I met at Berkeley in 1992, both 19-year-old transfer students from other schools, both arriving with suitcases but no pots or pans, no beds, no desks, just a few days before classes started. I was going to live in the "co-op" system, a self-governing collective of houses scattered around town, each with its own peculiar "flavor" -- the vegetarian co-op for example, "Lothlorien," was known for its blow-out "food orgies" in which you were allowed to feed anyone but your own self. It was made famous later that year as the dwelling of the "naked guy" who walked to class in nothing but flip-flops each day, and who sued the school over its mandatory-clothing policy (he lost). I was assigned to Cloyne Court, the massive party mansion on the north side of campus. After meeting my bunkmate, who was, er, a guy, I bowed out of that and met Julie vying for the same room as me in a big Victorian house in Rockridge. Neither of us got it, but we joined forces and found a soulless little box of a studio apartment together. And there we stood, with not a stick of furniture, not a wooden spoon, not a shower curtain, not a thing. Our parents were far away, classes had begun, our new lives were underway, and we had a magnificent lack of stuff. It wasn't like in the movies on dorm move-in day with the mom carrying the kid's rice cooker and laundry basket while the dad hooks up the stereo. We were alone and stuffless. We were also basking in our own self-congratulatory glee at being "Cal students" -- we thought very highly of ourselves! I mean... Berkeley! This is the school with Nobel-laureate designated parking spaces, for goodness sakes, and we were here!
Well, that apartment slowly filled up with futons and plants and posters. Julie learned to cook and I did not. I was an English major, she was sociology, I studied Shakespeare. she studied cult psychology, I flopped on the rug in sweats and socks while she studied at the little table in nice outfits with her shoes on all day and her legs crossed, just as if she were at an office. We were pretty different even then, but we spent so much time together, and she's easily the person I associate most closely with that wonderful time in my life. Studying at Cafe Strada or pointing out Allen Ginsburg on the street, driving down the coast in a convertible to go to sailing team regattas, having weird Russian Thanksgiving dinner with her big family, learning how to throw parties, dressing up as Daphne & Velma for Halloween, making fun of sorority girls, trying to get into bars, giggling much and often. My brother once pierced her nose by numbing it with ice and jamming the earring in. We got season tickets to the symphony and I fell asleep every single time. We voted together in our first ever presidential elections (You're welcome, Mr. Clinton). We fretted over money, overspent, got jobs, gained weight, and both took tentative steps onto our future life paths. Those paths diverged pretty radically. I went on to art school in San Francisco, and Julie to business school at USC. I bought a little yellow cottage, she bought an apartment complex. We rarely see each other any more, but when we do, it's like a chute back to that time before the paths diverged!
She came to stay last night after buying her building and we went out for Thai food and cocktails with Jim, then came home and drank wine and did an art show & tell, and heard about some of Julie's extensive world travels -- among other places she has been to India, Nepal, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Costa Rica, Peru, Chile, and Burning Man. This morning we walked the dogs and went out for very big fruit pancakes:
Incidentally, it was Julie who introduced me to Alexandra, who has been my best friend now for many years.
And on that note, a quote I love:
"Yes'm, old friends is always best, less you can catch a new one that's fit to make an old one out of." -Sarah Orne Jewett
(and to all the new friends I'm making here: I hope that one day you are all old friends!)
Posted by Laini Taylor at 3:16 PM