Recently, I got the chance to meet up with an old friend of mine for a quick breakfast before work. She’s lived in the UK for the last several years, serving the sustainability movement there through smart architecture (Indeed, very cool.) She and her fiancé were in the midst of crossing the country via car after crossing the pond, in order to attend her family reunion in Wyoming last month. It was great to see her after so many years, and fairly impossible to get caught up in less than an hour over too-buttery soufflés and breakfast sandwiches.
17 years… it’s hard to believe.
I honestly don’t know how Eliza and I met. I was 8 or 9 years old at the time. She was one of my rare friends who lived as far out in Parker as I did, east of Plano (where we attended school, one year apart). She lived even further east (AKA “further out in the country”) from my old house. Her family lived so close to Southfork Ranch that they often received passersby asking for directions. If they were feeling especially salty, they’d send them the wrong way.
Eliza was rare in other ways, too – for the most part, she grew up without television. Ohmigod! Very different from most kids at the time, especially myself. When I went to Eliza’s house, I knew we’d be running around the yard (acreage is more like it), exploring the creek behind her house, climbing atop the roof of her fort (yes, an actual fort!), swimming in the neighbor’s pool, or – alright – sneaking a few minutes of TV from a tiny black-and-white set in a secret upstairs location (don’t tell her parents!)
By the time I was 12, we were fairly inseparable. I’d had her join up with my soccer team (the Panthers), with hilarious results. I jest. :) Hey, at least we had fun.
But then, I found out that Eliza had to move to Wyoming. Major bummer. Even as far north in Texas as I lived, that big square state seemed so far away. We probably talked on the phone every month or so after the move, and things seemed to be going well for them all. Eliza’s big brother, Michael, finally got to stretch his Eagle Scout wings out in the big, open Wyoming landscape. Her parents were adjusting well, too, as was Eliza. But I wanted to visit this mysterious place, and see my friend again. Eliza and I were both involved in the Girl Scouts (my involvement was more peripheral, since I hadn’t been able to relate to more than one of the little snobs in my 4th-grade troop back in the day). She suggested a cool camp there for the following summer, which had a lot of separate programs. One was a movie-making camp. By the end, we’d be certified auteurs. Sold!
My visit to Wyoming spanned an extra ten days in addition to the camp, so it totaled about three weeks. We spent time at her new house, in the small town of Saratoga (so small, residents picked up their mail at the post office). We also took a number of road trips, including one to Steamboat, Colorado where we observed a veterinary procedure (I was interested in veterinary medicine at the time). The movie-making camp was fantastic and fun – it’s amazing how down-to-earth all the Wyoming girl scouts were. (It was then that I understood why my hometown was known for its snobs.) The camp leaders went by fun code names – one of them was Quasar. Our two leaders made a lot of Monty Python references… (That must be where it all began!)
Oh, and the movie we made? It was a modernized version of Cinderella in a camp context, complete with Cinderella’s evil stepsisters forcing her to clean latrines.