Why Egypt isn’t just Egypt

They’d call us the Bobbsey Twins in high school. Ever the pedant, I’d have to point out the Bobbsey twins were two fraternal boy-girl pairs (Bert and Nan, Freddie and Flossie. Don’t mess with me on the Bobbseys or Anne Shirley). Besides, we didn’t really look alike, though we were both blonde and blue-eyed. Teresa’s a little shorter, with curls and dimples. I wore contacts while she was still wearing glasses. If our graduation pictures look eerily similar, that’s just the matching caps and gowns.

I’d say we bonded over her evil nature. OK, not exactly; we bonded over a shared sense of humour and sensibility. Other grade 10 classmates were shocked when she would casually say “that’s because you didn’t have a dad” to me in response to anything from my lack of fishing prowess to my predilection for Corey Hart over Bryan Adams. She was joking, but it was also the first time a peer had gotten the concept that my dad dying when I was 10 months old was not a fresh wound or even a scar – it was a missing piece. It was something I’d puzzle over: What would my life be like if I’d had a dad? So why not puzzle over it with humour? Teresa got it.

We’d sit by our lockers and mock the hairspray girls who needed to enter the bathroom two by two. We were driven mad by people who didn’t pick up their feet when they shuffled down the hallway. She’d never tell me she liked my new pants if she hated them. I liked that about her. I still liked those pants.

After high school, we became roommates, sharing a nearly furniture-less apartment in Edmonton first with her brother, then just the two of us, then with her boyfriend. I’d given my blessing for him to move in, then moved in with my own, expecting the inevitable phone call to tell me they were engaged. I was her maid of honour. She’d been with me through some rough times and some great times, and that continued after we lived apart.

I moved to New Brunswick. Then Calgary. Then Mexico City. Then Vancouver. Somewhere between those last two we lost touch. Neither of us are good with the phone. She’s not good with email. I’m not good with persisting in the face of silence, and thought she was breaking up with me, our lives having become so different. She had two kids, a husband, a suburban life. I thought I’d lost her and let her go.

When I finally decided in August that maybe I was in Vancouver for good – or for whatever “for good” means to me – I bought a condo here. Sorting through my photo albums in the move, I was struck by how many milestones featured her dimpled smile. It had been about 8 years since we’d talked and I still missed her. I decided to send her a card to tell her so – my thoughts on mode of communication were still 8 years old – and tried to look up her address online. Instead, I found her Facebook page.

Turns out she hadn’t moved anyway, but I’m an online kind of girl and didn’t want to miss the instant impulse: I sent her the message. She replied. It was almost like no time had passed. Her 40th birthday coincided with the end of my gruelling contract with the Olympics so we started talking about embarking on a Woe is We warm-weather vacation to celebrate and commiserate. She joked about Egypt. It’d been on both our bucket lists since before we met. She’d made me read the Amelia Peabody Egyptian mysteries way back when. Being the pedant I am, I researched a trip. It wasn’t that much more than a non-lifetime-dream destination.

It was destiny. We booked. I leave for Edmonton tomorrow, where I will celebrate my brother’s birthday, catch up with family and friends, and reunite with Teresa for the first time in person in over 8 years before we head to Egypt on Thursday.

I tell people the (abbreviated) heartwarming story and the inevitable reaction is: What if you don’t get along? They don’t understand. But that’s never mattered. Teresa gets it.

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6 Responses to Why Egypt isn’t just Egypt

  1. Recycled Motorcyclist says:

    VERY cool. It's so easy, in this so hectic life, to have friendships drift apart. And so important to reconnect when there's a chance!

  2. Corien says:

    Huh.. in stead of 'what if you don't get along' my first reaction was 'what if the vacation is too short?'
    You've got at least 8 years to catch up on, and stuff to do, and pyramids to climb! (and of course pictures to take of the soon to gradually/logarithmically increase sunburn). Have fun!

  3. Jen Brown says:

    This (beautifully written) essay makes me feel like I have a warm, gooey center. Well, which, technically, I suppose I do.

    Can't wait to hear all about it and see many pictures.

  4. Teresa says:

    I am humbled beyond words, Diane. That was so beautifully put and mirrors so much of how I feel about you, our friendship and Egypt – with one exception. I've always viewed the drift apart as just a phase and that ultimately, we'd be 80 years old, sharing another apartment, and yelling at the young uns to pick up their bloody feet, while watching a Carey Grant movie (preferrably NOT Gunga Din!). So glad you followed your impulse to send the message and that your pedantesque (is that even a word?!?) tendencies have led us to embark on another crazy journey together!

  5. Florence says:

    This brought tears to my eyes, Diane. I am so glad you two have re-united and are going on this amazing adventure together. The "what if you don't get along?" will not be a problem, I am sure the 8 year separation will vanish, and it will be as if you had been talking to each other every day for years. Catch up, enjoy, and I will look forward to reading all about your travels!

  6. CAROLINE says:

    I am so glad you were brave and sent her a message. I have a friend who drifted out of my life who I miss dearly but I am not quite as brave … yet. Mostly because I feel it was more my fault than hers. I know you'll have an amazing trip.

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