A Wrong Turn can Turn Into a Lifelong Friendship
So far I’ve lived in five different states (about to be six), but countless cities and towns. My homes have ranged from, you name it: apartments, trailers, condos, townhomes, duplexes, small houses, medium houses, and big houses. Each one was unique, and I loved each of them. Looking back, I’d say that collectively, I had many favorites. But at the time, my favorite was whichever one I was living in then.
Wait. Why countless homes?
Edna (my mom) loved to move from place to place when I was growing up. She was never quite content in one place after too long so within about a year, we moved on. Back then, I don’t think I realized that transplanting that many times was abnormal. But then, I’ve never been “normal” by most standards anyway.
The upside of countless homes
Moving around gave me the opportunity to clean things out before I packed. Whenever we got to our new place, I could arrange my bedroom however I wanted. I always got to decorate a new way. I thought the surroundings were cool because typically the view looked nothing like the one before. It was fresh and I liked it.
Although there were times when I went to two different elementary schools in one year (kindergarten, third grade, and fourth grade were all half a year at one school and half a year at another), I didn’t really hate it because I always had a new clean, organized home, and I met so many new friends. I always got to “start over”. Maybe Edna always wanted to “start over” too. Whatever the case, moving like we did taught me how to meet people easily. I was a professional before I could even spell the word “friend”.
Finding the yellow farmhouse (finding the friend comes next)
I moved often as an adult as well, but nothing like I did as a kid. Pete and I bought our first home in Chicago and after our second child, Kole was born, we moved to the suburbs.
This home in the suburbs was unquestionably the greatest find I could have ever found (until the next one, of course). The only reason I found it was because I took a wrong turn; I missed the exit I was supposed to take. We just had a snow storm and the “Hinsdale” sign was covered with snow. I didn’t know the area very well and wound up going the wrong way.
As I was trying to find my way to where I needed to be, I saw a “For Sale by Owner” sign in the yard of an old, yellow farmhouse with a wrap around front porch and a white, wooden swing as a bonus. I struck gold! We bought that home and lived in that town of Western Springs, Illinois for eight years.
Western Springs was a quaint, Mayberry-like town, and our kids loved it. Most of the friends that I had there too, were somehow affiliated with the kids. It was a great way to meet other women who shared my same values in life.
I still have many friends from Western Springs, even though we have been gone for over a dozen years. In fact, one of them, Geri, reached out to me yesterday by text and simply said, “Hello my friend! Hope you’re doing well!! Love you! ❤️ ” It’s 4° here in Minnesota and those few words warmed my heart in a split second. I haven’t spoken to Geri since her birthday on October 18th, and just like that, it was like we had spoken to each other yesterday!
Here’s how I found Geri...
It was 2005. (I remember that day so clearly.) I was at my daughter Lex’s softball game. Geri’s daughter, also named Alexis, was on the same team. Geri walked up to me (I remember she was wearing a bandana), and just started blabbing like she had known me for 100 years. I was taken aback because usually I am the one who is the aggressive blabber! Despite my first reaction, I asked for her cell (like I do with most new people I meet), and we’ve stayed in contact from that moment forward.
Turns out Geri only lived in La Grange, about 10 minutes from me. She and her husband Joe had a cute red brick-colored ranch house with five daughters. Yes, five daughters. Can you imagine the pads and tampons?! How about the wedding bills. Oh my lord!
..and why I love her
Times were crazy for her back then because, well, again, five daughters. But Geri rolled with it. She’s not like me. Geri and I are like the Odd Couple—she’s the Oscar and I’m the Felix. (In case you can’t remember who’s who, Felix is the uptight one and Oscar is the cool one smoking the cigar!) Geri’s shoes don’t have to line up in her closet. She doesn’t have to always have every dish washed and put away before she leaves the house. And she certainly doesn’t take all day to do her hair because she lives with alopecia (the condition where the immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing hair loss). This is why, when I first met Geri, she was wearing a bandana. That’s how I knew her for years: wearing bandanas of all different colors.
Geri freaked me out one night when she came over with her new wig. It may have been the one she called Sue, but I can’t remember. It was a pretty wig and she looked beautiful in it, but I wanted my old Geri back. I asked her to take it off. She wasn’t completely bald. I didn’t care one way or the other. I loved her for who she was no matter what she looked like.
Geri is a “Good Time Charlie”—she’s super fun to be with. She’s also that friend who’d drive 4000 miles in the middle of the night in torrential downpour to be by my side if I called upon her. Her heart is as big as Texas and her laugh as infectious as COVID-19.
What I learned (There’s always a lesson)
Edna took me around to many different homes in my early life. The experience taught me how to make friends. It showed me how to decorate, organize my space, and line up my shoes. But in the end, as Geri showed me, little of that matters. It’s what’s in your heart, how you treat others, and how, when you have a thought to text your faraway girlfriend, “Hello my friend! Hope you’re doing well!! Love you!” you should do it.
I’m thankful for the wrong turn that cold day in January. Thank goodness for the Chicago snow storms or I would have never met Geri, my faraway, true-blue, heart-warming, forever friend. Thank you Geri for acting on an impulse and texting a warm message on a frigid day. I love you!
I love that you were with me today. See you next week!