Ours was a dream 43 years in the making...It was the summer of 74 and I had just gotten back from a three week trip to the majestic Rocky Mountains of Colorado--a far cry from the tame surroundings of my New England landscape. I was 16 years old and excited to reconnect with my friends after my somewhat lengthy absence. As luck would have it there was a party at Mac’s Cabin that very night and I convinced my mother to let me go. When I got there, the last thing I expected was for Chrissy, an upper classman who previously ignored me, to practically tackle me with unabashed excitement, “Tell me everything about your trip. I want to hear every detail!”
And that is how it all began. Unbeknownst to us, that would be the defining moment that would solidify our friendship for the next 43 years and counting. We sat side-by-side on the couch talking for hours, oblivious to the party going on around us. I shared with her every detail of that glorious, life-changing trip. And she shared with me her dream to visit the southwestern states, to see the mountains, and most especially, to walk the New Mexico landscape where her favorite artist, Georgia O'Keeffe, received her inspiration.
From that moment, we became inseparable. Though from completely different backgrounds, people thought we were sisters. They still do. I suppose it’s because our hearts have merged together, supernaturally, in a way that’s deeply familial and this somehow is reflected on our faces. We are friends and we are sisters. Nothing can separate us. We will always have each other’s backs. Jokingly (maybe half jokingly), Chrissy will say that we’re so loyal to one another that if one of us killed someone, the other would say without hesitation, “They must have deserved it.” Ok, so this might be a harsh example, but you get the idea...even with my moving 3,000 miles away to California in 1980, we have stuck together through thick and thin.
The years have come and gone, and with them a bit of thick and a whole lot of thin. Between the two of us, we’ve survived a cheating husband, a drug addicted/drug dealer husband, infertility, loss of grandparents, parents, friends, siblings, the death of a husband, single parenthood, and a whole lof of other “thin” that I cannot, or rather, will not, divulge. We’ve shed many tears together—some of the saddest around the kitchen table with an enormous tray of Italian cookies and countless cups of tea. But we’ve also shared a whole lot of gut-wrenching belly laughs, and pie, and shopping sprees, and good books, and wonderful movies, and weddings, graduations, vacations, and did I mention pie?
We are incredibly alike and incredibly different at the same time. “My Chrissy” as I like to call her, loves baseball—the Yankees. I could care less (not about the Yankees, but baseball in general). She is more conservative than me in some ways and more liberal in other ways. She loves her traditional Catholic church and I love my Spirit-filled church. Politically, we are on different planets. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. We have found that we don’t have to be exactly alike to love each other.
One of the things we have in common is our love of the arts. Chrissy is an incredible artist. While I was getting married and having babies, she was studying fine art at the university. I was her classmate in absentia, as she expanded my love and appreciation by sharing her vast knowledge with me. This was the inception of our mutual love for the works of Georgia O’Keeffe. And here we come full circle to the dream that began 43 years ago when two young girls sat together dreaming of one day walking the landscape of New Mexico where Miss O’Keeffe was inspired.
Last week, Chrissy and I took the trip of our dreams. Me now at 58 from the West coast and she now age 60 from the East, came together like two teenage girls. We started at the O’Keeffe museum in Santa Fe where we gazed, dumbfounded, at the brilliant works of this incredible artist and where I learned that all those references to the “erotic” images that she painted were absolutely false! Come to find out, Georgia was appalled that they referred to her art that way as that was never her intention. Wow, that was interesting! And then we drove up the mountainside roads to Abiquiu, stopping every little while to take in the beauty and snap photos, we were undone by the majesty of God’s grand landscape. We arrived at the Inn and hopped on the tour bus that would take us up the tiny roadway to her home and studio. As we wound around to the front of the adobe ranch, we both let out our collected breath—Oh my God, literally! God’s presence was so thick, I could not hold back the tears. All the emotion of being there with Chrissy, fulfilling this lifelong dream, feeling the palpable anointing of this great artist, seeing the magnificent splendor of God’s creation all around us, and getting to share all this with my best girlfriend, the heart of my heart—well, I’m tearing up all over again as I type this. There are no words.
We will never forget this trip. Nor will we forget the long and winding road that led us to where we are today and the friendship that started out under the most unlikely of circumstances but has truly stood the test of time...It’s almost as if God had something to do with it. (Wink,wink).