Friday, November 29, 2013

Thank God for Nicole (and first grade)

Growing up, my twin sister Joy and I were never allowed to be in the same class in elementary school.

It wasn’t so much that people thought we’d make no additional friends, it was that our parents thought we’d be disruptive and make each other laugh to the point that we’d pee ourselves.

….Like, uh, that one time in the kitchen when we were seven.  (It ruined dinner for everyone else.)

The problem with being put in separate classes, though, is that Joy always got the nice, fun teachers and I was stuck with the cranky teachers that yelled all the time.

Childhood injustice!

But in first grade, I was doubly jealous.

Because not only did Joy have a fun teacher who didn’t grade her daily on the arrangement of her desk materials, she had Nicole.

With so many faceless kids at our school, Nicole was the most distinct-looking person I’d ever met. She had jet-black hair and pretty white skin; no wonder she was nicknamed Snow White later in life.

Nicole quickly became our best friend in first grade, and clearly, Joy’s replacement for me. Joy and Nicole routinely got B’s in behavior for constantly talking to each other even after being moved away from one another.

Our mom even had to go to school and talk to Joy’s (nice and fun) teacher who had no advice other than to “recommend they not be in the same class again.” Haha.

After first grade, Nicole’s family moved from New Orleans to California and I remember being super sad the last time we went over to her house and saw all the boxes.

We were too young to write letters or use the phone so we boxed up our memories in our brains and moved on to second grade.

Nicole moved back to New Orleans when she was a freshman in high school, and her mom enrolled her in the same high school that she herself attended, a Catholic all-girls school.

Nicole said she remembers being nervous that first day since she didn’t know anyone in New Orleans anymore, a scary thought when going to a new school in a new city.

“You remember Jenny and Joy!” her mom said.

(I wonder if our ears were burning that day.)

Who knows what became of Jenny and Joy! Nicole thought. Do they even live in New Orleans? What are the chances they’d be at the same school and even remember me??

But then, as if by fate (but no, New Orleans is just THAT small of a town), Nicole entered the school’s gym on the first day and saw some familiar identical faces.

We had all enrolled in the same school. 

And we didn’t even have to look at Nicole’s name tag to recognize her. Same jet black hair, same Snow White. (A lot of OMG’s!!!!!! happened that morning.) It was just perfect.

We wasted no time making up for lost time. In fact, Joy got a detention on the first day of school for laughing with Nicole during the priest’s homily at mass.

Nicole was my best friend all throughout high school.

We had all the typical, perfect high school memories – first time driving, first time driving without my mom in the front seat, first dates, first boyfriends, first dances (with foreign exchange students), first time going to a bar, first fake IDs.

She was a major part of high school for me.

The best part about being friends with Nicole was that no matter what we did, we’d laugh. 

We were always laughing.

We laughed about our teachers, we laughed about our friends, we (me, mostly) laughed during soccer practice when the coach would only refer to her as “purple socks” because that’s the only color soccer socks she owned. Hahaha.

We laughed when the day I turned 18, I made Nicole come with me to seven different bars (18 is bar-entering age in New Orleans) including the punk bar that I only wanted to go to because I had a crush on the dirty lead singer of a band that screamed into the microphone.

Really!!! That's us on my 18th birthday!!! I only look 12.

Laughing was a good look for Nicole; Nicole has great teeth.

Snow White??!

Now, if it was fate that we ended up going to the same high school, then it was also fate that Nicole was born the day after Thanksgiving.


Because even though I went off to college in South Carolina, I was always back during Thanksgiving break and was able to spend the day with my very best friend.

There’s many a-photo of us bundled up in coats and scarves out on the town taking birthday shots. #traditions

The thing about Nicole that I loved best is that we can tell her anything - absolutely anything - and she'll always be my cheerleader. The most comfortable friend ever. She never gets tired of me repeating the same stories or fears or frustrations over and over. (A girl after my own heart. Ha)

This was most needed when I moved back to New Orleans three years ago when almost immediately my life plans went to shit. 

I had major life setbacks with a tough job and tough breakup and by the time Nicole's 28th birthday came around, I cursed the day I moved to New Orleans (even though I still made her a buttload of Jello shots). I was a DELIGHT.

Nicole was one of the people I was most looking forward to seeing regularly when I moved back, and she didn't even complain once about my less-than-positive attitude. Not even once. (Well, not to my face, haha). 

And she went out of her way to make me feel better.

Right away, she joined a kickball league with me so I’d have a built-in friend, even though she hates team sports. (At least no one called her purple socks).

And as she predicted, life got better, and we found our New Orleans groove together. We even roped my roommate, Ann, into our mix and have been a delightful trio.

We’ve been to every single festival in New Orleans (and come up with clever ways to sneak in alcohol), every single holiday, Mardi Gras parades, red dress runs and more. We started a dinner club where we go to a new fancy restaurant once a month. I’ve spent the night in Nicole’s spare bedroom more than once after late nights.

And we still laugh a lot.

It’s nice being around someone who knows every single thing about you and remembers it all. 

That's the thing with a 20-year friendship. I don't have to go into a long explanation about anything. I can still call Nicole anytime of the day and tell her absolutely anything. 

How did I get so lucky???



Everything I ever needed, I found in the first grade :)


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