Welcome to Day 13 of this year's A to Z Blog Challenge.
It's not often that a person can say they've been lucky enough to have a lifelong friend who isn't also a sibling or a cousin. Yet it happens sometimes, and today I'd like to introduce you to mine.
For Day 13 --
M is for Mary
I remember the moment we met. I was three years old. It was summer, so Mary was already four.
She and our little neighbor Johnny Michael were on the sidewalk at the bottom of our driveway. I ran down the double cement paver tracks with grass in between, and we stood gazing at one another for a few moments.
Then I said, "I'm Julia. Want to play?"
Ha Ha Ha! And the rest is history.
That's Mary in her purple dress at the center of the photo, with me in green as the little birthday girl later that year. That's Johnny Michael sitting to my right.
When I stood in line outside of my kindergarten class for my first day of school, Mary was there beside me. Both of us styling in plaid skirts, might I add.
Mary came with us when my family visited the Detroit Zoo in the late 60s (we lived in Royal Oak, a suburb of Detroit.)
I went places with Mary's family. We ate meals at one another's houses, swam in each other's backyard pools, even had sleepovers sometimes.
In the early 70s, when my family moved from Michigan to Nova Scotia (where my ancestors had lived for three centuries -- a homecoming for my mom, a new adventure for my dad, my sister and me) Mary and I began writing to one another in the days before social media.
Our little girlish letters crossed the border with all of our news and dreams and longing for one another. Luckily for us, my family travelled back to Michigan often to visit family and friends. Every time we were in Michigan, the little friends had their delighted reunion. Hugs, laughter and the feeling that no time had passed since the last time we sat and talked together.
Eventually, Mary made a few trips to the east coast to visit us in Nova Scotia. The photo above is from her first trip here in the late 70s. That's Peggy's Cove in the background, one of my favorite spots on earth.
This photo was taken on a trip my sister and I made to Michigan on our own in 1985. Michelle and I went with Mary to Bob-Lo Island for a great day of going on rides, strolling, talking and just being together.
The very next year I moved to Toronto, which meant I was only a few hours away by train from my Mary! She came to see me in my new city, but most of the time I went to Michigan because I could also see my aunts, uncles, cousins and one set of grandparents.
This is one of those visits, when Mary was making preparations for her wedding to Chris, with the adorable Sampson on her lap. I have a whole album of Mary's wedding photos but they must be in one of those 'safe' spots that are so safe you can't find them.
My dad, my sister and my fiance Brad all joined me to celebrate the beginning of Mary's life with Chris.
Before too long, Mary switched roles and stood with me at my wedding to Brad. We actually got married in Michigan, since it was wasn't too far for the Toronto people to travel, while my Nova Scotia family and friends all bunked in together at a motel and had a great time.
By then I was doing my film degree at Ryerson in Toronto, while Mary had started her family. Our visits became less frequent, but the letter writing and phone calls continued.
After I finished university and moved back to Nova Scotia, Mary began the great adventure of homeschooling her three boys.
But when Mom and I took the train from Halifax to Toronto for Mom's art show at the Hummingbird Centre Gallery in support of the National Ballet of Canada in 2000, Mary and Chris were there (at center below) along with our Toronto friends and family, and of course my Michigan aunt and uncle.
That's the thing about a lifelong friend. She is always there. Whether or not I can reach out and touch her, she touches me from that space she always inhabits inside my heart.
This was taken at the party my sister and her roommate-and-friend threw for Mom after the art show opening night. Back row, L to R: my husband's 'attendant of honor' and acting school friend Andrea, me, Mary and my sister Michelle / Front row, L to R: Mom; yesterday's Day 12 Blog Challenge post subject Lisa; and my usher staff friend from my decade at the Hummingbird Centre, Jacquie.
Mary called me on the phone a few weeks ago.
As soon as I heard her voice, any time that had passed since I last heard it instantly melted away and we were laughing and talking and once again delighting in each other's company.
That's the way it is with lifelong friends. She inhabits all the moments we've shared together, all the moments we've thought about one another, all the moments -- whether we're in the same space or whether we simply carry one another in our smiles.