Allow me to introduce you to the friend I have literally known since birth, or at least her birth, which occurred nearly two years to the day after I entered the world.
Her name is Faythe and she is the daughter of my mother's best friend, Ethel, who spent most of her adult life trading clothes and complaints and sharing highballs and and gossip with my Mom. The two of them gave birth to three children each, all of us stair-steps in our birth order. I was number two -- the middle child -- in our family. Faythe was number two -- also the middle child -- in hers. The two of us grew up much like cousins, spending hours playing with Jane West dolls on their plastic horses when we were young and riding real horses together as we got older. We even double-dated during high school with our high school boyfriends in tow (though she was much more hesitant to make-out in the back seat of a car than I).
As we grew older, I finished college as a married woman with two children and I stayed in Alabama. Faythe became engaged several times but never married, and when she completed veterinary school and moved to Seattle and began what seemed a glamorous life of being a single professional woman I feared our friendship would end. It did not. It only grew stronger and in odd ways more intertwined...about the time I divorced and began struggling with single parenthood, Faythe married and soon became pregnant with her first and only child. About the time I remarried, she divorced and began her stint as a single mom.
Despite the miles and lifestyle differences between us, our friendship has remained stalwart, a fact that Faythe deserves most of the credit for because she is the one who works the hardest at staying in touch. She always, always makes time to see me on her visits home to her family, and she always, always seems to show up at the most important moments in my life--when my children were born, when I first divorced, when I remarried, when my mother passed away, Faythe has been there celebrate and mourn with me. I have not done as well by her, tied as I have been to this place we both used to call home and lacking as I am in her vagabond spirit.
In the five decades of our friendship, Faythe and I have gone for months without talking to or seeing one another. But when we are together it's as though the Jane West dolls of our childhood, the plastic and real horses of our girlish hearts, the childbirth and broken romances of our adulthood, and so much more that we have shared are all part of one long, lovely story.