Everyone needs a Hally in their lives

Holy Bad Hair Decade, Batman!

A best friend is the person who loves you for you. She let's you sing Berlin's Metro at the top of your lungs even though you're verging on tone deaf, and she isn't afraid to tell you that yes, in fact your ass does look bad in those jeans but your boobs look spectacular in that shirt, and that's what guys will focus on anyway, so shut up and let's go or we're going to be late. She's a support group, a reality check, and a fan club all rolled into one.

In my case, Hally is all this and more. She still tells the story of the day we met. Apparently I walked right up to her in kindergarten (I was a bold one, even then) and announced, "Hey, you're Hally, right? I'm Liz. Let's play." Little did I know, she would evolve into my joined-at-the-hip counterpart for the next thirteen years or so, the loyal friend who never told about my fifth grade crush on Jason Brizzi, despite the fact that everyone already knew. (And damn if my dad didn't slow down the car every time we passed Jason's house, calling "Jaaaaaaaasoooooon..." and reminding me that If Lizzy G married Jason Brizzi, she'd be Lizzy Brizzi.)

That same year, Hally and my weekends were spent at the midnight screening of Rocky Horror. Her father was kind enough to carpool us and accompany us to the show, since our combined ages hardly allowed us legal entry to the theater, let alone the driver's seat of the car. And yet there we were, water pistols in hand and Charmin rolls at the ready, prepared to do the Time Warp with grownups.

Clearly inhibition wasn't our thing.

In sixth grade, lunch hours were spent at her house, inhaling melted cheese on English muffins so that we could get to the dancing. We were determined to be the first girl-girl performers on Solid Gold, and had choreographed a hot disco routine to Dancing Queen for our national television debut. We waited for the call but alas, it never came.

By junior high, we applied our passion in a more appropriate forum: Bar Mitzvas. We became known as The First Girls on the Dance Floor every Saturday morning. Adolescent self-consciousness? Puh-lease. If there was an organist plinking out Kool and the Gang, then that parquet floor was ours to conquer.

With the exception of a short, and perhaps necessary hiatus during those early teenage "finding yourself" years, Hally and I remained tight through more than a decade of little league, summer camp, soccer games and ballet recitals. Through band trips and snow days, unrequited crushes and college deferment letters, and many many Halloweens. By high school we were far too old for trick-or-treating, but who were we to pass up an opportunity to dress up in costumes and act like idiots?

So many details flooded back to me this week when Hally informed me she still has practically every note we ever passed to one another in class. Let me assure you, that's saying a lot. And then, this arrived in my email inbox this week:

The date at top: Jan. 6 1986!!! Extreme emphasis on the 86 because this was the year we had dreamed about for so long, the year we would graduate high school. The letter is the quintessential glimpse into the mind of a 17 year old, and after reading it, I feel like I've been judging the Ohmigod Girls of My Space a little too harshly.
Dearest Hallard, Hey...wassup? I'm quite fatigued. I am sitting here writing on my new and funky typewriter, even though I should be working on my short story. But that's okay, befcause I have all these frees with nothing to do and I really don't have to hand it in until Friday. I could hand it in earlier if I want, but I don't want...
Compelling stuff, I know.

I go on to write the transcript of an imaginary interview with Hally after having been accepted into the college of her choice. Of course I'm with her, because what high school girl would agree to be interviewed without her best friend?
Interviewer: So, Ms. M...
Hally: Just Hally's okay. And you can call her bitch 'cause that's what I call her.
Liz: Fuck you!
Interviewer: *ahem* Now Hally, what do you feel is the best part about getting accepted into a University such as George Washington? Is it the University's prestige? The thought of living on your own? The opportunity to expand your knowledge?
Hally: No, it's not any of those.
Interviewer: Well then, what is it?
Liz: I'll tell you the real deal. It's 'cause the drinking age is still 18
I always gave myself the good lines.

Today, Hally inspires me in a million different ways, not the least of which is because she's a single mom raising toddler twins on her own. (Well, on her own plus the proverbial village that it takes, as she'll be the first to tell you.) Whenever things get tough on the parenting front, I think, well Hally's doing a bang-up job and she's got TWO of them, and that always seems to do the trick. She speaks about parenting with more honesty than anyone I've ever known, and was the first to assure me that whatever I am feeling--good, bad or otherwise--is absolutely okay. More so, she was the first who I actually believed when she said it.

Hally's also mama to the world, an honest to God save-the-planet type who's actually doing just that, traveling the globe to rid the world of injustice and HIV, starting with the countries who can least help themselves. I have an entire collection of postcards from exotic places like Dominica, India, and Namibia that document her journeys across the world for the past fifteen years or so. Like Hally with the notes we passed, I've never thrown one of her postcards away.

The upside of all this: I'm ridiculously proud of her.

The downside to all of this: As she reminded me last night, she's moving to Tanzania. Next week. For two years.

With all of my work-related insanity of recent weeks, it absolutely slipped my mind. Or maybe I just conveniently put it out of my head, since it seems impossible that I could have forgotten. But now I'm stuck here on the left coast with no chance of hugging her goodbye before she leaves. The heartbreak I'm feeling is immeasurable, and the only solace I've found is in my possession of a webcam and copious frequent flyer miles.

Anyone up for a safari with me next year?


If you can't get enough of Mom101 today--and really, who ever can?--I'm blog sitting at Motherhood Uncensored today. So fun! Like having a summer home! Come visit me there and I'll grill up some hot dogs.


Blogger MrsFortune said...

Wow, how incredibly cool to have a friend like that. Amazing. Though I'll pass on the safari. I'm allergic to malaria vaccine, so ...

5/18/06, 1:12 PM  
Blogger amazedlife said...

Tanzania is amazing - you and Hally will have a great time even if it's just the two of you and the giraffes! You should definitely visit. And go to Zanzibar. Now if only I could get my "Hally" to visit me in Africa...

5/18/06, 1:24 PM  
Blogger Mahlers On Safari said...

This was beautiful! I love you, too. You are my inspiration!

5/18/06, 1:26 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

That was a beautiful, beautiful love letter to an obviously wonderful human being. Everybody does need a Hally. I'm going to visit mine, to introduce WonderBaby to one of her godmoms, next week. Other side of the country. Not as far as Tanzania, but still, too far. Anywhere beyond next door is too far. Everything else *is* just so many airmiles and so much bandwith, and never enough.

Blogher in Tanzania?

5/18/06, 1:27 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Travel to the ends of the earth for your Hally. Bring the bebe, she'll be better for it. Tanzania can't be as bad as Hollywood (or Champaign-Urbana)!

You are a truly blessed woman to have this friendship. I envy you and I applaud you.

5/18/06, 1:42 PM  
Blogger GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

I love her. What an amazing lady and friend. The letter cracked me up too. I'm down for the safari. I'm ready to roll. Archer's down too.

5/18/06, 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shit girl that sucks. One of my best friends. (I have two I've known since kindergarten is in New York and I haven't seen her in 6 weeks. And that feels like forever. Just remember that email reaches to that side of the world.

Loved the note by the way. And yes, you might want to reconsider your myspace rant or possibly the forcing your daughter to be homeschooled and gay. ;)

5/18/06, 2:03 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

Thanks for the reminders of the awesome 80s! Now I gotta go listen to that Modern English song again, or maybe some INXS for old times sake.

Good tribute to your friend.

5/18/06, 2:03 PM  
Blogger J said...

Amazing. I think I have a girl crush on you both now. We should hang out, with me and my best friend, Rosemary, except she lives in Philly now, and I live in Northern California, so we rarely see each other anyway...which is only part of why your post brought a tear to my eyes. Love good friends. LOVE. Thanks for sharing.

5/18/06, 2:14 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I have one of those friends.....I think I'm gonna call her right now...or post something about her...or something!

5/18/06, 2:16 PM  
Blogger MrsEvilGenius said...

What a fabulous post. I've lost track of all of my old friends. Sometimes I google 'em just to see, but I've never found them.


Now I have to go watch my RHPS DVD again.


5/18/06, 2:28 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

What a great tribute to your friend. I used to have a shoebox full of notes from high school that I just recently threw away. God, what I wouldn't give to have them back to share on my blog. Now that's some funny stuff!

5/18/06, 2:36 PM  
Blogger BabyonBored said...

That was really nice. I'm a total best friend kind of girl too. Sadly, mine died when she was 18 and I've never had another friend with that kind of best friend intensity. But it could still happen right? Even at the ripe old age of 39? And the two years she's away will fly by. You know how it does when you're a parent.

5/18/06, 2:42 PM  
Blogger Wendy Boucher said...

Great story, Liz. You should definitely go visit your friend in Tanzania. It's beautiful. You could write us blog postcards from the top of Mt. Kilimnajaro.

5/18/06, 2:47 PM  
Blogger Sandra said...

She sounds awesome. My Hally is named Bethea and I wouldn't trade her for anything.

You must go visit her in Tanzania....

5/18/06, 3:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I get clausterphobic and scared at the thought of my Hally moving that far away. I hope you're able to visit her while she's away.

5/18/06, 3:51 PM  
Blogger macboudica said...

There is nothin like a few close friends. One of my closest friends thinks her cancer is out of remission. If that is the case, she may be going a lot farther away than Tanzania.

5/18/06, 4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friends like that are hard to find. I imagine your connection won't be stopped by oceans and continents.

What a wonderful tribute to what sounds to be a wonderful friend. We should all be so lucky.

5/18/06, 4:45 PM  
Blogger Lindsay said...

Super sweet story!!!
Friends like that are few and far between!!!

5/18/06, 5:23 PM  
Blogger Mel said...

My Hally is a Denise. And though we live fairly distant from one another, it would break my heart if she left the continent for two years. Here's a hug.

5/18/06, 5:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe you did future letters too! (That is what my friend alex and I called them)

We used to write these letters to one another all the time. I wish I could find them now.

5/18/06, 6:18 PM  
Blogger Alisyn said...

Man, I wish I'd thought of that!

I'm going to go call my best friend right now...

5/18/06, 6:28 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Yes. If it is not during my school year, I got lots of free time.

I am having this angst pre-move too. My girl friends aren't coming with me and that sucks.

5/18/06, 6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was reading your post, thinking about my own best friend - OMIGOD HER BIRTHDAY WAS YESTERDAY.

Thanks for the wake-up call. I'm late, but seriously, not as late as I would have been.

(Count me in for safari. I don't like bugs though. Are there bugs in Tanzania?)

5/18/06, 7:18 PM  
Blogger nonlineargirl said...

How lucky you both are, to have each other and to have had such a good friendship for so many years. Guess a Tanzanian vacation is in your future.

5/18/06, 7:53 PM  
Blogger Erin M said...

It's amazing and inspiring how your friendship has endured. My best friend and I met in highschool. We are still going strong despite our differences. You seem like a creative type, though are you crafty? If so you can put all those collected postcards to good use. I just did an altered book for my best friend and I used letters and notes she's sent me over the years as elements in the book you can check it out over at my art blog http://mamamakes.blogspot.com you'll have to scroll down towards the bottom. I think it would be an awesome thing to send across the miles to remind her that even though you are so far apart, she is still in your heart

5/18/06, 8:53 PM  
Blogger Jess Riley said...

Oh my god. I am actually reading this WITH MY BEST FRIEND. (Cindy says hi.) She's moving to Bellingham, Washington next year, so I know how you feel!!! (Although this is still in our country...but damn far away.)

Liz, this was so wonderful.

AND I still have a black garbage bag FULL of our notes passed back and forth between umpteen classes in high school.

We'll both sign up for the safari. Hally sounds like a class act kinda gal all the way. Just like her best friend. :)

5/18/06, 9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friendships like flourish even from a great distance. In two years it will be like she never left. And you'll write and email and live your own lives, forget some things, and remember others, but staying connecting in your heart and in your soul, where it really matters. (By the way, I graduated college in 1986.)

5/18/06, 10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awww what a beautiful tribute to your friend. I am sorry you will not be able to hug her before she goes...but she knows you lover her!

5/19/06, 12:25 AM  
Blogger zinalasvegas said...

That's brilliant and probably the best substitute for a hug a gal could get. Here's to lifelong friends and saving the world...

5/19/06, 6:23 AM  
Blogger The Domesticator said...

You are both so lucky to have such a caring and loving relationship, especially after all these years. I am so sorry for you that she is moving so far away. Fortunately, the world has become a smaller place with computers. OH, and now you can make even more memories, writing to each other for the next two years.
Thanks too for the memories..those pics were fabulous! Being a 84 grad, I related all too well.

5/19/06, 8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ouch. It's hard when life gets in the way of remembering all the things that we need to. Certainly the two of you have a deep love and connection and if anyone will understand not getting a hug before she left, she will. Thank goodness for Hallys. Beautifully written!

5/19/06, 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok...now I want to go look up my best friend from high school...if I weren't almost sure that she's in jail.



5/19/06, 10:14 AM  
Blogger Movin Mom said...

I'm going to visit you at Motherhood Uncensored/summer home. Will you have a pool? :)

Good Times I was an '85 graduate so the hair thing cracked me up. Being from Texas I thought we were the only tumbleweeds out there!!!

LOVE the walk down friendship lane...but even more the fact that you two are still friends. :) I keep telling my freshman that these are memories he will keep forever.

5/19/06, 10:20 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

that was fantastic! I SO wish I had some of the letters my friends and I passed around. And yes, when I think about all the My-Space/My-Skank buzz going on right now, I think "fuck knows what my My-Space would have looked like." Bad enough to get child protective services in methinks--and it would all be posturing. well. most of it.

5/19/06, 10:37 AM  
Blogger Redneck Mommy said...

Beautiful post. I wish that I was still best buddies with my childhood girlfriend. However, her addiction to all things bad have made it impossible.

Too bad your friend is leaving, but think of the amazing possibilities if you can go on your safari!

5/19/06, 10:57 AM  
Blogger carrie said...

My very fabulous childhood friend (the one I took ballet with when I was five and went to my first concert-George Michael FAITH Tour-with) moved the entire width of the U.S. away! Then, she came back, lucky us! Thanks for sharing.

5/19/06, 12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like an amazing friendship. I hope you do get a chance to do the safari while she's in Tanzania. And the internet will make it easy for you two to keep in touch -- not like the days of the typewritten love letters back and forth. ;-)

5/20/06, 10:31 AM  

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