Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Heather was my best friend in junior high and high school. We went to Catholic school together. By the 8th grade, we were pretty tight. When we left St. Joe's, Heather went to the Catholic high school, and I went public, so to speak. Despite going to different schools, we were best friends all through high school.

Heather rocked like cooling lava. She was hippie, I was preppie. She introduced me to Woody and Arlo, I introduced her to uh... I don't know if I introduced her to anything... my crazy obsession with all things "West Point" perhaps.

Among my favorite memories of times with Heather were the long walks we took around her neighborhood. We would just walk and talk (about anything and everything.) It was a tradition we started back in the 7th grade when we would walk around the playground at recess, talking. There are two specific memories I have of those playground talks - one was discussing the bombing of Libya, the other was trying to get up enough nerve to say hello to Brian, whom we would pass by six or seven times while he played outfield in the 8th grade baseball games.

Then there was Carmen Sandiego. Heather and I could play "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego" until the wee hours of the morning. My geography is still terrible, but at least we had fun.

And I cannot forget Dave Barry. Heather got a book of his and we spent an entire weekend reading chapters to each other, laughing our heads off. I even remember reading one chapter to her parents too, as we travelled to one of those Yale football games that they would invite me to. I always got to go with them when Yale played Army. On brave old Army team....

Another trip of note that I took with her family was to Vermont. It was on that trip that Heather introduced me to Skip-bo... the greatest card game on the planet. And, on one of our "talk walks" I saw a meteor for the very first time. We were completely psyched.

Heather and I frequently reverted to junior high behavior. Even in our college years, we fondly recalled the time that we fingerpainted with ice cream all over the island in her kitchen. We called each other things like "girlie, girl," and made up noises to identify the degree of cuteness of males who walked by. I swear we made up a word that was supposed to mean something specific, but I can't remember what it was. We later found out that it really was a word, and the real definition was not nearly as good as ours was.

But, perhaps the most "junior high" of all our endeavors was the PFHEA. The PFHEA was Heather's brain-child. PFHEA stood for "The People for Human Excretions Association." I think it came about after a long brainstorming session in which we tried to think of all the words for "puke" that we could. Her dad even contributed (with a word, not by actually puking.) It grew from there. We made no distinction between excretions and secretions. Probably because we just wanted a reason to talk about as much gross stuff as we could. But puke was, by far, our favorite. And Heather was great with words.

Heather was an actress too. She knew all about Broadway and such, and had regular parts in productions put on by a local Parks and Rec. Department. I'd go see her whenever I could, and got to know most of her fellow actors pretty well. We both took our turns swooning over Jim, whom I though looked just like the guy who played Gilbert in the Anne of Green Gables series.

Heather's love of Broadway even won me some clout in the ninth grade. At the time, she was into "A Chorus Line" and she was always listening to the original cast recording. So, I had to get my cassette too. And, of course, I memorized every word. I never thought that my knowledge of the musical would serve any purpose. But, my teacher in Early World Civ. that year (Mr. Goodrich) decided one day that we would play some sort of trivia game. The question I got was "what actress sang Nothing in the original cast of A Chorus Line?" Of course no one thought I could possibly know this. But I did, and they were all quite impressed. (BTW, the answer is Priscilla Lopez... and that was only my favorite song on the entire cassette.)

We decided that our graduation present to each other would be a ticket to see A Chorus Line and spending the day in the city. Alas, the longest running musical had to close some time, and it did before we graduated.

More than Heather rocked, Heather was smart. Way smarter than me. She got into Cornell. She didn't go, but she got in... something I never could have done. I remember the evening that we went out to see "Worth Winning." We had both taken the SAT that morning (at our respective schools) and we were comparing notes. I was telling her all the words I got stuck on... meaning I'd never heard them before.... One of them was "vapid." I told her what I answered. She said she answered something different. I figured she was right, but she acted like she wasn't sure. Then one of the characters in the movie actaully used the word VAPID. From the context, we figured that she had, indeed, gotten it right. To this day, I wonder if she knew all along what that word meant and was just trying to be nice to me.

Of course no other movie experience with Heather was more memorable than "When Harry Met Sally." I remember Heather commenting about something that Meg Ryan was wearing. It was a white turtleneck, a pair of jeans, and penny loafers. Heather's comment was that her outfit was "so classy." (Perhaps Heather was a closet preppie.) But it stuck with me... I don't know why. Anyone who knows me today knows that I FREQUENTLY wear a white turtleneck and, up until getting pregnant with Lainee, I wore penny loafers all the time. Every time I wear them, I think of Meg Ryan, "When Harry Met Sally," and Heather.

I remember the night before Heather left for college. I went to visit her. It seemed strange. Of course, once we left for college we were never as close as we were during high school. I left her house feeling like it was the beginning of the end. Needless to say, that stunk.

Heather and I would chat once in a while during the college years. But, as is often the case, we were too far away and our experiences were too different to really maintain the level of friendship we had. All I know of Heather after college is that she worked in an art museum in England, in NYC as an administrative assistant, as a college admissions counselor in PA, and is now a high school guidance counselor.

I got her Christmas card yesterday and have been reminiscing ever since. In their lifetime, everyone should have a friend like Heather was to me.

Tonight, I think I will have to dig out that old "A Chorus Line" cassette and listen to it again. The words "One singular sensation" will have new meaning.



Blogger Luisa Perkins said...

Your friend sounds great. FYI, I live right across the Hudson from West Point. We could see it from our yard, were it not for Constitution Island.

Wed Mar 07, 06:04:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home