Because You are Who I Call When I Flush Men’s Numbers Down the Toilet

by Natalie

She was the girl with the really cool shirt and the amazing hair. That was how I knew her in eighth grade. I was the girl who got her onto the JV soccer team and talked obsessively about her gerbils. That was how she knew me in ninth. We sat next to each other in Honors English. That was how we became friends in tenth.

But first, back to soccer. To this day I know I’m the reason she made the JV team while the rest of us were stuck on the freshman squad. We were paired against each other during the one-on-one part of try outs, and while my view towards soccer was always, “If you really want the ball, take the ball,” Courtney’s attitude was more along the lines of a mother bear guarding her cubs, “Nothing you can do will make me give you this ball.” I distinctly remember the JV coach watching us (Courtney had her eye on the ball). When she made JV, I knew why.

And now, back to Honors English, which is where it really all began (though the foundation had been laid – only true friends know about the gerbils, as, alas, I don’t talk about them anymore – naysayers, it’s been at least three years). Our English classroom was supposed to be in Room 104, but at the last moment was switched to the upper classmen campus, and as fate would have it, neither Courtney nor I received the memo and wound up outside Room 104 at the same time. We walked to the correct classroom and took seats next to one another.

Since I couldn’t remember if we hated the class or our teacher (I remember hating something) Courtney refreshed me:

“I distinctly remember hating all of the books (like every single one) and only enjoying the discussions because you and I just liked to be difficult and play devil’s advocate. So I think we liked DeLisle, in the sense that we liked giving him a hard time. I wouldn’t like to be on the receiving end, we make a formidable team.”

Oh yes, it was the books we hated. No one should ever have to suffer the injustice of Beowulf, GrendelTo Kill a Mockingbird, or The Catcher in the Rye all in the span of five months. Though I have since become a devoted fan of the classic by Salinger, I think we should leave Beowulf to the Brits. I have also forever been scarred since the reading of Bananafish. DeLisle was out to corrupt our innocence.

Somewhere between reading great literary classics and coming to loathe old English, Courtney decided I was funny (or maybe I just provide numerous opportunities for people to laugh at me) and we realized that we both like to bake.

My memory seems to be failing me, so once more I prompted Courtney, “Do you remember the first time we hung out?” and received the reply, “And you told me about the death of your hamster? Or was it a gerbil?”

Gerbils, Courtney. As in plural. That’s why it was so traumatic. That was why I still talked about it.

That and I had apparently missed out on the acquisition of some essential social skills most kids gain between the fifth and ninth grade (I caught up, but it was a few years later). Courtney loved me through it.

Since the second time we hung out was almost as bad as the first, it was a miracle we made it to a third, but neither of us can recall what exactly we did, because we most likely did some variation of what we have done ever since. Paint our nails, listen to music, bake, go for a walk, plan our lives together (Fuggliners) and eat.

We really like to eat.

Courtney is one of my solid rocks. She is an absolute inspiration to me, and though she may not know it, one of the people who inspires and drives me. I admire her strength and determination. Once she’s decided she is going to do something, it gets done.

I have been blessed in life to have many good friendships, but Courtney knows me in a way my other friends do not. There is a candor and frankness in our friendship that I have been hard pressed to find with other people. Whenever we are together, we just laugh. Before I moved to China, Courtney was the friend who took the time to write me a letter to open upon my arrival, because she knew exactly what I would need to hear at that moment:

My dearest Natalie,
Breathe.

She has been giving me some variation of that advice ever since (and before, if we’re being honest). Courtney is who I call / email / text if I ever need advice regarding a boy (meaning, if I say hi to one, I call Courtney). She has been the recipient of many (well, not that many) drunk texts and emails, the former usually going something like, “Courtneeeey, I’m drunk!” because I was the last of my friends to drink and was always rather proud of it when I reached a state of inebriation. The latter, “This is a venting email after a few shots.”

She is who I call when I need my own advice repeated back to me, “What you really should do is be just as busy,” or when I need advice in general.

She is the friend who came over the night before I moved to China and rearranged my suitcases so that everything I wanted to pack would fit. The one who bought me chapstick because she knew I wouldn’t remember any yet cannot live without it.

The one who, when I emailed, “I tore his business card up and flushed it down the toilet, because, you know, friends do that,” responded with, “Tearing up his business card was definitely the most logical thing to do. And the toilet? Nice touch.”

The friend who has acquired half of my closet. The one who loves me despite the fact that I announced that the purple dress she was wearing made her ass look fantastic. In front of her entire extended family. On Thanksgiving.

The one I was so happy to see I tackled on the lawn when she came to play a Frisbee tournament at my university during college.

The friend with whom I exchange letters.

The friend who woke up early to meet me at Starbucks at 7 AM so that we would have a half hour together before I had to get to work.

The first person I told about my first kiss.

The one who was there the night I got my second.

One of six people who attended the only house party I ever threw.

Who worked with me at the restaurant, and who I taught how to waitress.

The person to witness my adverse reaction to Benadryl when her cats nearly killed me.

The friend with whom I went on a quest for Mason jars and spent one Christmas season baking endless amounts of peppermint bark.

The friend who has known since the age of sixteen that she will one day be my bridesmaid.

With whom I aspire to own neighboring houses built into the side of a mountain, a bed and breakfast, and a cow named Betsy.

The friend who understands when I am being irrational and who talks me through it.

The friend I always meet at Polar Cub.

The one I cannot imagine my life without.

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{Photo older than original sin}

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