From the moment I met Beth in the Westshoremen drum line in the fall of 1981, we were best friends. In as many ways as we were similar, we were also different. We were both outgoing and gregarious. We both loved to laugh and we were both dare I say, “boy crazy” to one degree or another. However, when the rubber met the road, Beth was the devil-may-care yin to my uber-responsible, rule-following yang. (See 37/50 Breaking the Rules) Her flair for singing and acting, her hilarious sense of humor and magnetic personality made her as hard to resist then as she is now.
Later that winter, Beth and I both abandoned the dream of playing in the drumline and migrated to the color guard, she on flag and me on rifle. We marched two summers together in drum corps and were inseparable in the off-season as well.
I was sixteen when Beth and I met and I had just learned to drive. I had a dirt brown Toyota Corolla I had bought for $600 but my memories of Beth revolve around her green Chevy Corvair. I’ll never forget that car. My guess it that it was an early model, probably 1961 to 1963 and it hauled our young behinds so many fun places.
Because we were too young to go out to adult establishments, when we weren’t marching drum corps, we would head off to Trindle Bowl in Camp Hill, armed with rolls of quarters to play hours worth of video arcade games. I don’t think we ever actually bowled once. Our favorite games were Ms. Pacman, Galaga and Q-bert and Beth could NOT be beaten at Q-bert! I can still hear the stupid little sound of him falling off the mountain of cubes when I pushed him just one space too far.
Our teenage adventures included spinning flags and rifles at home in my bedroom and in her basement. We’d make up color guard routines to pop music songs, and talk about which were the cutest boys in drum corps. I remember us going to the Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight one evening, she dressed as Columbia and I as Magenta. We were in her bedroom spraying my slicked back hair with bright red temporary hair color spray, which makes total sense of course. After the fact we realized that her pale blue drapes were covered with tiny droplets of red from the overspray. Whoopsy. To a bystander it would have appeared a herd of mice had been murdered just moments before.
One of the themes of our silly teenage years together was boys. We always had our antennae up in search of cute boys to look at and talk to. The funny thing is that as boy-crazy as I was at that age, it was Beth who always managed to get a date. (See 11/50 “Blooming Late” July 17, 2015) She was prettier, funnier and way more self-assured than I was so it’s not surprising that she was the butterfly and I was "the awkward friend." Not that I minded TOO much really, because as a rule-follower, I would have been terrified to be anything else. (See 37/50 “Breaking the Rules” August 12, 2015)
We had lots of fun times flirting with boys, both in and out of drum corps, but once she met Chris Moyer, a member of the Westshoremen drum line, that was the end of that. The two of them were a solid unit for several years. Beth and I took so many “road trips” to visit Chris that I can’t even count. At the time, Camp Hill to Lebanon felt like a big drive, but it was really only 32 miles or so. Perhaps the fact that we usually had to hide our intentions to go there from her parents made it an even bigger deal. We’d jump into the Corvair and head east down Pennsyvania route 322, hang a left at Quentin and zip north a few miles to Lebanon to visit Chris every chance we got. Why she wanted me along on trips to see her boyfriend, I will never know. Perhaps it was just to make the drive down and back entertaining, but no matter, I always enjoyed seeing Chris and his family.
Over the years, Beth and I shared a carefree friendship filled with ridiculously funny times and very few troubles between us. As we got older, our lives went in different directions. I moved to Philadelphia, while she moved to southern California and although we were nearly 3,000 miles apart, we talked on the phone constantly, remaining as close as ever. It was during these years we began to experience the challenges of adulthood; navigating romantic relationships, family situations and career dilemmas. Through it all we loved and supported one another, never once letting the miles come between our bond.
On an absolutely perfect summer day in 2001, I was proud to be in her wedding on the roof of a hotel overlooking the Puget Sound on a perfect summer day in 2001. Two years later, she was my matron of honor at my wine country wedding.
In January 2004, I found myself in a hospital room in Camp Hill Pennsylvania with my terminally ill mother. Beth knew my mother and I knew she would want to be informed of her grave condition so I picked up my phone and dialed her number. At that time, she and her husband Frank lived in Seattle Washington. She had no idea I was in PA with my mom, as it had all happened suddenly. As fate, destiny or divine intervention would have it, Beth and her husband were not only driving through Pennsylvania at the time, but were fifteen minutes from the hospital where I was waiting to learn my mother’s fate.
The timing could not have been more perfect. She immediately came to my side and spent the rest of the day with me in friendship and support. Much of that time is a blur, but I remember the two of us spending the night sleeping in the hospital room listening to my mother’s labored breathing and talking about life.
In 2006, Beth and Frank had a beautiful baby boy. From the beginning, I was in awe of my friend’s parenting skills. She took to motherhood like a duck to water. I’ve been amazed at her patience, her kindness, and her resolve to do the hard thing when it would have been so much easier to give in to the demands of a small child. As a result of her commitment to excellent parenting, her son is smart, polite and an absolute joy to be around.
Beth and I became fast and best friends in 1981, and that’s a long dang time ago. Beth and I have lived more years far apart than we ever lived close together in the past 34 years, but our relationship has stood the test of time. Our friendship has weathered opposite coasts, different lifestyles, marriages, divorces, moving, family drama, parenting and personal challenges. Through it all we have remained close and she will always be my original BFF.