Once upon a time many years ago, two little girls were growing up in a magical place called “Chicagoland.”
They were friends throughout elementary and high school and, although they went to different colleges in different states, remained close. After college, they returned home and began working. One day Rina asked Shari, “If I can get a job teaching in California, would you move there with me.” CALIFORNIA!!!! OMG!!!! And so the adventure began.
Rina was offered a job and a few months later a caravan of three cars, Rina’s mom and dad in one, Rina in her Mustang and Shari in her Barracuda headed to the girls “promised land” — Palo Alto. They quickly found an apartment not far from where Rina would be teaching. It was nice, but renters downstairs, didn’t like them walking around after 8 pm, so they ventured out and found The California Oaks, in Mountain View — their new home.
The Oaks was great. All the residents were in their twenties or thirties, as were hundreds of renters up and down California Street. Yep, Mountain View was the place to be. Every weekend there was a party somewhere. And, when the girls weren’t in town, the two nomads traveled to Monterey, Santa Cruz, Napa Valley, Pebble Beach, went sailing at the UC Berkeley Yacht Club, and were spectators at the Laguna Seca races.
A favorite for them was Nepenthe in Big Sur, where they could be found sitting outside at the fire pit, enjoying a spectacular view of the Pacific. And then there were the people! Once, Rina pointed out a woman knitting a little chin cap for the man with her (yes, that was a little cap that fit over his chin!). He was dressed in leather and appeared to be directly descended from Eric The Red. At one point, he stood up, looked out to sea and bellowed, “The sea is calm.” No one knew why, no one cared, it was part of the charm that is Nepenthe.
Their first party at the Oaks was nerve wracking. It was, as all the weekend parties, BYOB. The party started slowly. They wondered if people would show up. However, within moments of that thought, they were surrounded by a huge crowd! Where did they all come from? The one-bedroom apartment was large, but OMG….there had to be over 75 people in there. The girls didn’t have a clue who they were, and they were everywhere….in the bedroom, on the deck, in the kitchen. You couldn’t walk through a room without everyone having to shift. Finally the party began to thin out. Their first question was, “where are the knobs to the TV?” The second was, “why would someone take the knobs to the TV?”
The next day they found the TV knobs in the bedroom, and enough bottles of liquor (hidden in cupboards and closets throughout the apartment) to open their own bar.
Just up the freeway, there was the beautiful City by the Bay – San Francisco! They listened to bagpipers at the Edinburgh Castle, while drinking beer and eating Fish and Chips from Old Chelsea’s ‘round the corner; or had dinner at Ghiardelli Square, afterward heading to the Buena Vista for Irish Coffee.
During this time, Rina met a Navy lieutenant, Matt, from nearby Moffett Naval Air Station. After a couple of years, he was transferred to NAS Pensacola, Florida and shortly after moving, he proposed. The girls adventure was coming to an end. Rina left for Chicagoland where she and Matt were married. Shari went back briefly, then went on to Europe before returning to California. Later they flip flopped, with Matt and Rina going back to the Bay Area, and Shari moving to Miami, Florida. In spite of the distance, a telephone call was all it took to start up just where they left off — which is how it works for best friends.
As you may have guessed this is, in part, my story. A few weeks ago, Rina passed away. There are so many places, people and events that have been tucked away in my mind which are flooding to the surface. I recall the little girl, the teenager, my “roomie.” Mostly, I’ve found loosing a BFF leaves an overwhelming hole in ones heart. Fortunately I’ve found magnificent memories to fill it.
So to my Best Friend, “Thanks for the Memories.”