Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Bahama Mama

So...the Bahama Mama a.k.a. my best friend in the entire world, a.k.a. Monica - where do I start?

We were born exactly one month apart in 1980 - my birthday is June 8th, hers is July 8th - today! Our moms worked together as nurses at our small town hospital, and our dads were both Engineers for CN Rail. Our houses are directly across the street from each other.
Monica has 4 siblings, 2 older sisters and 2 younger brothers - and I was an only child until I was 12 years old. The fact that our parents were such good friends went a long way to us becoming friends. Our moms were together a lot, and when you grow up in a small town you know every single person on your street (if not in the rest of the town) so I was always with Monica's family or she was at my house just to get away from the chaos.

Monica's star sign is cancer. She is dedicated and devoted, somewhat of a homebody, caring and understanding and very intuitive. There is nothing I wouldn't tell her and nothing I wouldn't trust her with. She is also very encouraging. She asks me regularly how my writing is going, is very supportive of me learning to play guitar, and told me a week or so ago that she thinks I'll be famous someday. She's not entirely sure for what (I hope it's for something legal) but she insists it will happen.

Everyone has someone they say understands them better than anyone else, who they can tell anything to. For many people that is their spouse. Believe me, my husband is fantastic and he knows nearly everything about me, good and bad - but Monica knows everything in the sense that she knows who I had a crush on in April of grade 4, she knows about each and every boy I have ever kissed, she knows why I'm scared of the back stairs at my parent's house, she remembers things that I told her when her grandpa died when she was 10, she knows every fear and silly mistake I've made in my entire life. Like I said - everything.

There are not too many people in the world that I want to impress. Obviously I like the idea of making my parents proud, and I always want Chris to be proud of me as well - but I generally don't care either way if someone likes me or not.
I care what Monica thinks. She is so unprejudiced and fair, yet I am always striving to be a better person in her eyes. She has never passed judgement on me for anything - and I have done some not too spectacular stuff in my life - but she has stood by me, no matter what she might have really thought about what I was doing.

She is pathologically late. It was so bad in high school that our teachers knew not to expect us before the bell for the first class of the day. For four years I would go into her room or the laundry room while she was getting ready in the morning and find her a pair of matching socks. This girl can not find socks (especially matching ones) to save her life, so to save time in the mornings I would find her socks and have them waiting beside her shoes when she finally sauntered to the door.

No one on the face of the earth makes me laugh like she does either. When we get together we laugh almost non-stop; that high pitched, wiping tears from our eyes, grabbing our stomachs, can't talk because we're out of breath, kind of laughing. And this is constant, from the time we wake up to the time we go to bed when we're together. It's very loud.

She is very smart. She loves history and loves to read books and watch movies with authentic history in them. But sometimes her common sense is lacking. Not all the time - but she does have her moments when she is a true blonde. One memory I have of her is when we were in high school. She worked as a waitress and when Janelle and I (the bride from the wedding a couple weeks ago) were done at our jobs, we would walk down to the restaurant where Monica worked and hang out after closing. One day her boss sent her to the grocery store to get bananas for banana cream pie. Janelle and I got to the restaurant while she was out, so sat down with her boss to wait for her. She came rushing in looking very flustered and said "Hey Sue, I got the bananas for the pie, but I'm really sorry I had to get you a bunch of 6 bananas since they didn't have any with just 5."

Sue and I looked at her for a minute and then I let out a little giggle and asked her if she was joking. She said no she wasn't, and genuinely looked upset that she had to spend the extra 4 cents to buy another banana. She even told Sue she would pay the difference because she couldn't find a bunch of 5 bananas.

Sue and I kept staring at her, waiting for her to crack a smile to let us know she was joking, but when it became painfully obvious that she wasn't, we let loose with some of the biggest laughs you have ever heard. I remember screaming through my laughter that you can pull apart bunches of bananas - you can even just get one if you want. Sue was on the floor at this point, crying from laughing so hard. I have never let her forget that moment, I keep telling her that when she gets married it's going to be part of my toast to her.

She became the "Bahama Mama" in September of 2001. Chris and I were moving to Winnipeg from Calgary and Monica informed me that in October she would be moving to Nassau, Bahamas with her boyfriend Jeff for work. I was devastated.

Jeff and Chris are friends as well, and Jeff was the one that got Chris into being an electrician way back in the day. So while Chris grew bored of it and decided to get into nursing, Jeff finished his schooling and got his papers. He ended up getting a job for a huge company that needed him in Nassau. So Monica went along, and they've been there ever since. When they left it was supposed to be for a year. Now they're looking at properties and building a house, since Jeff has since started his own company, and business is booming. I'm happy for them but it sucks only seeing her a couple times a year.

Monica's family are not affectionate to say the least. They don't hug or kiss, or say I love you, or anything that might show love and affection. I, however, am from an extremely affectionate family. This has made for some awkward moments in our friendship - when I was excited about something, went to give her a hug, and she would either pull back or stiffen up completely.

But in December when I lost the baby and had my surgery, I was at one of the lowest points in my life. The day I got home from the hospital I was on the couch, wrapped up in a blanket and just staring at nothing. My mom, Chris, mother-in-law and father-in-law were there and all of a sudden there was a knock on the door.
Chris opened it and Monica walked in (she was coming home for Christmas but had changed her flight to come home early), she kicked off her shoes, walked over to me and sat down on the couch beside me. She never said anything, just hugged me quickly and said that she had brought me some treats. To Monica and I, treats are all things yummy and fattening. She opened her bag and pulled out a box of Ritz crackers, a jar of Cheez Whiz, an enormous Toblerone bar, ripple chips and dill pickle dip, a jar of pickles, about 10 chocolate bars, and some gummy bears. And later, when no one was paying attention, she grabbed my hand for the briefest moment, said "Al, are you okay?" and listened with tears running down her face while I told her the whole story.
I gotta tell you, that stupid bag of junk food, and that hand squeeze were just what I needed. It was her way of telling me that she loved me because she couldn't just come out and say it.

When she was home a few weeks ago we were out for dinner and all of a sudden she put her head down and started talking "Al, I know that you have said you would never ask any of us to give up our body for you to have a baby, but I would do it. So if it comes time that your body just won't let you do it, I'll do it for you."

I started crying right there in the restaurant and she was wiping tears from her eyes. Then she said "Shit, enough of this damn crying, I need another Caesar." Then we were laughing again and we started talking about something else, but those couple lines from her have meant more than almost anything anyone has ever said to me.

Since I was very young, my dad has always told me that Monica was one of the good ones, and that those are the kinds of friends you do anything for.
He was so right. I couldn't love her any more, and I couldn't ask for a better friend. Monica is one of the most amazing people that has ever set foot on this earth and I'm thankful every day to have her in my life.


Blogger Chris said...

That post made me miss Monica too.
And now I'm tearing up...god job.
Best friends are the best for those reasons alone.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Princess of the Universe said...

I hope everyone is blessed with that kind of friende at least once in their lives!

4:03 PM  
Blogger Reggie said...

Ali, this is a fantastic story.

Does she read your blog? Does she blog?

7:55 PM  
Blogger Ali said...

Reggie - she knows I have this blog, but has never asked for the address and has never read it as far as I know.
She is the only one out of my entire family and friend base that knows this blog even exists.
She doesn't blog on her own, and I'm afraid if she started one it would only be updated once every couple months or so...though she would be quite entertaining.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Rock Chef said...

Great post - she is what I call an "Old Mate", the sort of friend where time and distance do nothing to change your relationship. When you are both old and grey, you will still be getting together for odd occasions and screaming with laughter.

7:20 AM  
Blogger krista said...

Excellent post, Ali! You almost made me cry. My family isn't really touchy feely either. At my uncle's (my dad's brother) funeral, as we were going up the stairs to the reception, my dad reached over and grabbed my hand and held it until we got into the room. That one action meant more than a dozen hugs and I will remember it for the rest of my life. Funny how things work like that.

7:34 AM  
Blogger mr zig said...

Thats awesome that you have a friend like that in your life! Great post!

7:37 AM  
Blogger liv said...

can't live without a friend like that. amazing--and a lucky star to be sure.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Logziella said...

Wow!! That is awesome Ali! It about made me cry too! I am so glad you have that kind of a friendship in your life.

11:46 AM  
Blogger 2xA+r0n said...

Happy Belated Birthday, Monica!

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Judy said...

That was a touching post. Brought tears to my eyes.

12:16 PM  
Blogger James said...


(no I'm just kidding TWM)

She sounds great. Men very rarely have friends like that, because we have to be tough and compete with each other....

11:05 PM  
Blogger James said...

Say, does anyone know who Princess Banter is? She left a comment on my wargaming blog....I don't think she is a wargamer though....

11:06 PM  

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