Graduation Redux

It was over 10 years ago now that I first met Kaitlin. She had recently moved from Southern California and was wandering the halls, looking confused. As I recall, I was sitting at one of the picnic tables eating leftover orzo, with a steel thermos of chocolate milk (made with dark Indonesian chocolate, almost black). I was alone, which must mean Kirya was sick, since we were inseparable during our days at Mendo Middle. I remember offering Kaitlin some of both of my lunch items–I don’t remember whether or not she accepted. It was the first in a long history of me forcing peculiar food items upon her.

We seemed fated to be friends. After that moment, we drifted in and out of each other’s lives, and became much closer friends in high school. Oh, the things we did. I remember going to Tote Fete and splitting fruit tarts in the gazebo. Strolling to the Market at lunch for sandwiches, wandering around the bookstore, going to Portuguese Beach when I should have been in class (she didn’t cut that much–I did). I remember the house out 409, and moving back to the house in Fort Bragg. I remember going to the ice cream store on the first rainy day, splitting soft serve at Cultured Affair, rolling our eyes at each other during Morning Meeting. Sitting on the headlands eating Tirimisu from the Market out of the box, listening to music. Going to Mendosas for popsicles in the late spring. Gallivanting about in the Golf on warm summer days. I remember retreats with her, sunny days at the river, and the occasional argument, because what’s a good friendship without a fight or two?

Both of us are intelligent, academic high-flyer types, and I remember teachers constantly trying to pit us against each other. Much to their regret. Kaitlin is far too kind and I am far too lazy. We did our own thing in school–I’m sure I disappointed my teachers constantly, and Kaitlin did just the opposite. But it worked out well for us.

I remember her spending the night, making blueberry pancakes, going to the beach with my father and building preposterous constructions. I remember hanging out at the radio station waiting for her mother to finish broadcasting, I remember movie nights with the gang. I remember sending Tyler off to college and teasing Kate about being adopted into the family–and I more or less have been, at this point–my Christmas presents say “the other daughter” now. We’ve had I don’t know how many bad movie festivals together, staying up until the wee hours eating questionable snack foods and mocking the characters.

I remember the day she finally had it with David Seidell being an ass, and she punched him in the face. I remember hanging out in Erif’s closet with her talking about nothing in particular. We went on trips together, we ranged through the city of Mendocino together, and we were everpresent parts of each other, even though we also had other friends and separate lives. I remember when I went to Ireland for a month I thought I might explode not talking to her–she was the first person I called from there, only the time had changed there but not at home, so I ended up calling her at six in the morning. She handled the situation with aplomb, and I’m sure doesn’t remember the conversation at all.

I graduated before her, and felt guilty for leaving her. I recall saying something cheesy at her graduation, as is of course obligatory. But she did pretty well without me, I have to admit. And we kept in touch all that time. I called her from Vermont, constantly forgetting the time difference. When I came home on breaks, we always did something cool. When I finally got my driver’s license, the first place I drove to was her house. I remember the time we went out to Ward Avenue and fed wasabi to the seagulls with Michael. We’ve completed countless missions together. We’ve baked Christmas cookies together for the last I don’t know how many years. And oh, the decorating of those cookies. We watched an entire season of CSI in a 24 hour period once.

Kaitlin has always been there for me, and I’ve always tried to be there for her. Many middle of the night phone calls testify to this.

Shortly after she moved to college, I settled back at home–my adventures in other places were over, and I had found the place I wanted to be. Home was a travel base for me, though I didn’t travel much, and now it was her coming home on breaks for adventures. And she always calls when she’s home, even if we don’t have much of a chance to hang out. There’s something soothing about the thought of her being four blocks away again. Although we live in different places and are having utterly different life experiences, we still find common ground. Essentially we are polar opposites, and maybe that’s where the appeal lies. We have grown and changed a great deal over the years of our friendship, but we have remained constantly friends. And for this I am thankful, because I could not ask for a better friend. When I graduated, she told me that she hoped the light of our friendship would burn forever. I am certain that it will. I am confident that we will continue to be friends over the years, exploring the world together and finding new things to complain about in tandem. I cannot imagine a world without her. And as much as I frustrate her, I’m fairly certain that she can’t imagine a world without me.

Today, Kaitlin graduates from the University of California Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in English. I am immensely proud of her, and sad I can’t be there to watch her graduate (although since it’s in the Greek theatre it’s probably just as well because I would get a nasty sunburn). Now that she’s joined the ranks of us college graduates, she too can experience the joy of office jobs and the other sundry delights of adult life. But I have a sense she’ll enjoy herself in the process–my girl has a way of landing on her feet, even if it’s not always where she expects to land.

Congratulations, Kaitlin.