The Best

Posted on Monday 8 October 2007

My best sister-friend from Montana and I go back a long time–to a time when we were too young to drive, and when we worked together at a drug store lunch counter serving up crab cakes and ice cream to watermen and local politicians in a town that hadn’t yet hit the tourism jackpot on the eastern shore of Maryland. We have weathered families that often times fail us, but with whom we seem to always give it another try. Together, we navigated the uncharted waters of teenage angst and insanity, living pretty much on our own, left to our own unsupervised devices–all by age 17.

The summer we were both 18, our eastern shore town was very much on the map. I was the bartender and she was the cocktail server in the same new must-be-seen-at restaurant, and we were totally living on our own. We also knew our jobs were always on the verge, as every night we watched our restaurant owner pocket cash out of the register, while our paychecks bounced most every week.

Her siblings seemed mostly foreign to her: “I am sure I was the baby mistakenly brought home with the wrong parents.” Mine were a hodgepodge of steps and halves clamoring for acceptance. I was the willing outsider who watched them battle it out from the sidelines. Is it any wonder that my best sister-friend seems, indeed, to be the real sister from whom I surely was separated at birth?

When we were 19, I moved back to DC to continue with college, thinking I had met the man of my dreams. She moved to Montana to be with her sweetheart who was going to college there. Within months, her sweetheart had ditched her, it was winter, and she was stuck in a western state very different from the swampy eastern shore of Maryland. I was soon alone, too, on my own, working full time as a writer as I worked the independent study system as best I could to manage a B.A. in Literature.

By the time we were 21, she was still in Montana, and had really truly met the man of her dreams, whom she said yes to. The man of my dreams was still a few months away, unbeknownst to me, and I was the single girl who braved a Montana December to stand up for her at her wedding as her best girl.

Not long after, with a baby very obviously on the way, she stood up for me at my wedding to be my best girl. We saw each other only once a year, if we were lucky, but we stayed connected by phone and letter, and by being each of our children’s Godmothers. We were best sister-friends from afar.

We have never parted, despite the miles that make weekend visits impossible. Her kids are grown now, two of the most beautiful girls on this planet. Mine are almost grown, too, and they adore my best sister-friend, as hers adore me. We are all family, and sometimes my best sister-friend and I feel like maybe we are the only two in this whole world who totally and completely understand each other. We have other terrific friends, friends we love. But to each other, we are each other’s only sister-friend.

My best sister-friend flew me to Baltimore the Sunday evening after my birthday to meet her before she flew back home to Montana. Her mother is very ill on the eastern shore of Maryland. Her aunt is under hospice care in the same place. She had been there for five days to say sad goodbyes, and she wanted to be with her best sister-friend at the end of those five days, to hug and cry and laugh, and to just be together again.

We stayed up very late Sunday night, talking and eating fries and ice cream in our airport hotel. We drove a rental car into town today, gobbling up shrimp and crab for lunch, as we savored the inner harbor of a city we don’t really know, but that had brought us together through cheap airfares.

Our lunch, for those who love seafood, in photos.

Steamed shrimp appetizer with the perfect amount of kick to them:

shrimp.jpg

Lunch consisting of my best sister-friend’s crab cake and my lump crab chopped salad:

lunch.jpg

Two girls, who are two friends, who are two sisters:

susanandme.jpg

The visit was a perfect gift to us both as we face hopeful futures and uncertain times with the loved ones we still love above all. It was, truly, the perfect end to one of the most wonderful birthday weekend celebrations I can remember. Actually, I am sure it has been the best birthday, ever.

18 Comments for 'The Best'

  1.  
    voodoo76
    October 8, 2007 | 8:01 pm
     

    RG-

    You are beautiful! Did you ever get to download that Pearl Jam song???

    Be well,
    Les

  2.  
    A
    October 8, 2007 | 8:13 pm
     

    Wow, you both look way too young to have grown children.

    I read your blog all the time, you are a great writer and it always lifts my day when you have a new post. I hope you come back up here to the DC area someday soon.

    -A

  3.  
    Matt
    October 8, 2007 | 10:48 pm
     

    Haha, you ate lunch at my restaurant where i spent the last two summers working. i hope you enjoyed it : )

    p.s. long time reader, first time poster! i look forward to every installment.

  4.  
    kim
    October 8, 2007 | 11:30 pm
     

    It’s great that you got to spend some time together, I know how much you need your bestest girlfriend sometimes. Cute picture of you both!

  5.  
    Restaurant Gal
    October 9, 2007 | 12:12 am
     

    Voodo076–You make a gal blush. Thank you! And I love that song that now plays on my Nano.

    A– We actually are too young. Terrible thing, to be child brides…;) I’ll be in DC next weekend. Just trying to decide where to eat!

    Matt–You worked at Philips? I have to say, I expected the worst of a tourist place, and enjoyed every single bite. Our server was incredible as she replied to our allergy concerns, “Don’t worry, I know how it is. My son is allergic to everything.” She took such great care of us.

    Kim–Boy did we need that brief time together. Thanks!

  6.  
    Julie
    October 9, 2007 | 10:18 am
     

    RG — As my mom would have said, “it was just what the doctor ordered.” Your best sister-friend needed to spend some time with you after a few days of being with very sick family. Time with someone who loves you and is healthy reminds you that you’re not alone.

    For you, I can’t imagine a better birthday. I’m glad you celebrated it fully.

  7.  
    October 9, 2007 | 11:55 am
     

    You two really do look great! What an awesome thing to have a friendship like that.

  8.  
    October 9, 2007 | 11:57 am
     

    Glad you had a great time 🙂

    I always thought I was so unlike my older brother and younger sister that I must have been swapped at birth or something, but as we all age we look more like each other than ever.

  9.  
    October 9, 2007 | 12:10 pm
     

    What an awesome friendship. So glad you were able to spend some time together. Sounds like it was what you both needed.

  10.  
    K
    October 9, 2007 | 2:14 pm
     

    That’s awesome! My best friend is a bit aways from me, and no matter how far, it’s always a close relationship. There’s something so good about those in life eh? I’m so glad you had such a great birthday!

  11.  
    Restaurant Gal
    October 9, 2007 | 4:02 pm
     

    Julie–It was perfect!

    Natalie–Thanks!

    Kim–No, I am sure we are sisters, switched at birth or not 🙂

    Katie–I am a pretty lucky gal to have such a friend. All my close friends keep me going.

    K–To have such friends is the gift of all gifts. And it was, indeed, a great birthday.

  12.  
    spatchergal
    October 9, 2007 | 4:45 pm
     

    From one gal to another – I miss my best-sister friend too. She moved to CO 4 years ago and there is never enough time for visits. I’m glad you could be there for her this weekend.

  13.  
    maureen
    October 9, 2007 | 5:09 pm
     

    I totally relate I have a best sister friend for over 30 years. We have moved to different state together lived in different states apart & actually ended up back where we started. We’ve been through everything together Marriges, Diviorces, children ,Hard times ,wind falls. You wrote so beautifully about your sister friend it felt like you were speaking of us . Thank You !! have to call her tonight !!

  14.  
    Restaurant Gal
    October 9, 2007 | 10:01 pm
     

    Spatchergal–I know how it is to miss your best sister-friend, but I also know how lucky one is to have one!

    Maureen–Call her, please! And thank you for the nice thoughts about my writing.

  15.  
    October 9, 2007 | 11:09 pm
     

    […] Restaurant Gal wrote a fantastic post today on “The Best”Here’s ONLY a quick extractWe drove a rental car into town today, gobbling up shrimp and crab for lunch, as we savored the inner harbor of a city we don??t really know, but that had brought us together through cheap airfares. Our lunch, for those who love seafood, … […]

  16.  
    Restaurant Gal
    October 9, 2007 | 11:26 pm
     

    Best airfares–How the heck did you find me??? Please, someone elnlighten me on ping backs. I mostly delete them.

  17.  
    what
    October 16, 2007 | 12:06 am
     

    Omg, you’re hot.

  18.  
    Kathryn
    October 29, 2007 | 8:31 pm
     

    How cute you guys are in the picture. You both have your left foot tilted the same way!

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