A Friendship of Convenience

“I don’t want to go to the picnic,” Jo decided. “Want to do something else instead?”

“Like what?” I countered, thinking of the scant $20.00 in my budget.

Jo was already pulling up showtimes for the movie theater, but at the moment nothing is playing which I am interested in, and Jo’s already seen what she wants to see.

It was Saturday and we had just returned from the Farmers Market. Jo had just reminded me that the annual church picnic was the next day.

“We could go to the MacIntyres’,” Jo said.

“Sure,” I agreed. “They’re probably planning to skip the picnic, too.”

Jo shot a text to Calli asking if we could hang out at their house the next afternoon, and then we waited.

Just recently, Calli’s family moved from the house where the kids grew up, about a half-hour away from us, into an old farmhouse four minutes’ drive from us. Jo and Nina have already clocked the trip by bike. I don’t know that I’ve ever had friends who had lived this close before, so I’m excited to make up for a childhood devoid of dropping in at a friend’s house to hang out.

Oh, and they have AC.

“Make sure they have food,” I called to Jo when she told me Calli had said we were welcome to hang out.

“They always have food,” Jo said.

“Yeah, but they just moved….”

“They always have food.”

Calli and I agree that our friendship makes no sense and, had there been alternatives, we probably wouldn’t have become friends in the first place. Calli and Fay’s first memory of myself and my siblings is when they came to a homeschool picture day Mom was in charge of and saw this crazed bunch of kids across the parking lot. Eli had Jo in a headlock, Nina was wandering around looking lost, and I was probably scowling because I hate pictures. Undoubtedly, we were all shouting as well, because that’s what we do*.

They made a note to avoid the weird kids if at all possible. Only years later did we put together this story.

As it worked out, Calli happened to be there when I was in need of friendship. As she says, it happened by default. From the start her family and mine “got” each other and melded pretty well, and it only got worse the longer we stayed friends. Now there’s not hope of us parting ways because each side knows too much about the other and most of our inside jokes involve each other.

On the Fourth, Calli invited me to the new house to paint, knowing I like that sort of thing. She had been assigned this task because apparently she’s not allowed to help pack. Jo invited herself along and Fay showed up after work, and a long day of inhaling paint fumes, listening to musicals, coloring, and eating pizza ensued.

Over the course of the day, Calli and I got into arguments about everything from music to books to which Pride and Prejudice movie is better. That’s one of the weirdest parts about our friendship: we share almost no tastes unless it’s regarding food or clothing. We have a disagreement pretty much every time we meet and we rarely reach resolutions. The upside to this is that we’ve both learned something about accepting opposing opinions and learning which battles are worth fighting.

That said, it would probably be a bad idea for us to be roommates. Goodness knows why we think it’s a good idea to take a cross-country road trip together.

Probably my favorite part about my friendship with Calli is the fact that I can be perfectly honest with her and am allowed to tease her without having to worry about her getting offended (she just teases me back). About the time we had finished priming the living room and stairwell (and almost falling off of ladders and over banisters a few times) Calli realized she had opened a can of cabinet paint alongside the primer.

We didn’t let her forget about it all night long.

Now they’re moved in, though there’s still walls to paint, a kitchen to rearrange, and boxes and furniture placed haphazardly around the main floor. Jo and I came after morning service armed with coloring books, colored pencils, a book and computer for me, and appetites.

“I’m just here for the food,” I told Calli’s parents when they greeted us. Her dad immediately assured me that we were welcome anytime, even if it was just to raid their fridge.

They have around a dozen various fruit trees in their yard, one of which had been full of apricots before some coons got to it. Mom, knowing about the fresh fruit and driven by an apricot addiction, shot me a text later that day to pass on a message to Mrs. MacIntyre, offering to trade some eggs for apricots.

By the end of the night, it was a regular party.

The MacIntyres are some of the few people with whom I can be my most authentic self. I’m brutally honest, hopelessly sarcastic, and make no efforts to be socially acceptable.

Also, they always have good food.

* My sisters and I have developed this weird habit where we scream at the top of our lungs and wait for the others to answer from around the house. It’s like a weird version of Marco Polo. The best part is how some of our friends – like Sam and Nina’s boyfriend** – have picked up on this habit. There’s just something satisfying about being in a place where you’re allowed to scream for the sake of it and know someone, somewhere, will answer you.

** We’re working on his alias.


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