Crystal McFadden was not my first best friend (I’d had a lot of experience with the sacred bond of the BFF before I met her at age seven); she wasn’t my last best friend either (there is a long list of wonderful women I’ve been blessed to have in my life since I met her). She is, however, the woman with whom I’ve had the longest friendship, the only woman still in my life to have seen me through adolescent trials, high school drama, and into adulthood.
She was there to share girly slumber parties, there to celebrate me “becoming a woman!” at age twelve, there to help me pick out suitably “grunge” flannels the summer before 8th grade (the irony of wearing flannels in 100+ heat escaped us), there to giggle after my first awkward kiss, there to share my first pilfered wine cooler in high school, and there, standing next to me as I said my vows.
And now Crystal McFadden, my long-time friend, soon-to-be sister-in-law, has moved into my home.
I met Crystal in the summer of 1987. My stucco home on Fig Court sat at the end of a small cul-de-sac in the suburbs of Las Vegas. There were half a dozen other kids my age that moved into the new development around the same time, Crystal among them. For the first few years I’d see her outside playing and we might join in on the same game of tag or baseball with the neighborhood boys.
It wasn’t until we were being bussed to the same sixth grade center that we really became close. We bonded on those long rides across town, sitting together in the back (when we could muscle our way into those coveted seats) and singing along to the latest top 40 hits blasting from the radio of our bus (“Losing my Religion” and “I Touch Myself” were popular, as I recall).
And soon we became inseparable. We spent summers mixing batches of cookie dough with Crystal’s sister, Billie, never actually baking any cookies before the batch was devoured. We’d play spoons and Super Mario Brothers, then spend the night on her trampoline, shivering and bouncing in our sleeping bags. Late at night we’d make pacts to marry brothers so that we could be real sisters one day.
In high school, the stress of puberty, boys, and changing identities alternately drove us apart and back together again. By the time I hit college I knew that Crystal was one of those people who I might only see once a year, but whose friendship would last a lifetime.
When Crystal took a trip to Europe after graduating from college, she looked up an old mutual friend who was living in Germany, Kevin Doyle (Thom’s brother and my old high school boyfriend—but that’s a story for another time, my dears). The Deutschland proved a more romantic place than one would imagine and Crystal soon found herself in a budding relationship with her old pal.
Almost four years later Kevin popped the question and shortly after found a new job here in Cambridge. So here they are, bunking in our spare room, starting a new life, and making our days a whole lot more interesting.
Crystal and Kevin have found a new home that they’ll move into in March. It happens to be right around the corner from our place, about the same distance Crystal’s house was from mine on Fig Court all those years ago. By the end of the year we’ll be sisters, living just down the street from each other.
I sometimes find it difficult wrapping my brain around this course of events. It seems too unbelievable that our lives would intertwine in this surreal way. But I guess I don’t have to understand it to appreciate it.
There is a strange magic in the friendship of young girls, and I can’t wait to see what the next twenty years under its spell will bring.
I Know That Song
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