This is Leslie. That thing on her face is Archy. He’s her poodle, and he’s named for a cockroach. Leslie’s been my best friend since college, when we met at a screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Long-suffering king says to poncey singing prince, “Son, someday all this will be yours.” Poncey singing prince says, “What, the curtains?” She and I were the only people who laughed. You can all just shut right up: it’s the best line. After that, we bonded over a shared love of Southern Gothic literature, and became fast friends when we both went on a summer study program to Oxford.
Since then, except for the four years I lived in Nantucket, we’ve been either neighbors or roommates. She became a high school English teacher, and I became a jewelry designer by night who works by day in the same school where she teaches. For the last nine years, we’ve lived across the street from each other. She left yesterday to return to Oxford for two weeks with a group of students from school, so I’ve been thinking about how we met and how long we’ve known each other. (I was driving her car when I had the accident last week, and she still left me the keys for the next two weeks. That’s a true friend.)
It’s been a long time. We have a superb embedded shorthand, consisting of inside jokes, back history, shared experience and books, books, books. We hardly ever have to finish an entire sentence when we’re talking to each other. I was trying to think of a story to use here, and realized that our favorite thing to do is drink sparkling wine of some kind, talk about whatever we’re reading, and end up pacing the room with a glass in one hand and a book in the other, jumping up and down and shouting about it. It’s my idea of a really great time, but it doesn’t make a very good narrative. So I asked her what she thought I should write, and she reminded me about snow days.
We are best friends who live across the street from each other and work at the same high school, so we have the extraordinary good fortune to occasionally have a snow day. The very first snow day we shared was a huge blizzard, and it was still snowing in the morning when they canceled school. Leslie put on snow boots and a winter coat over her pajamas, and came over to my apartment with juice and club soda. I provided vodka and some other stuff I’ve forgotten (she has the recipe, but I forgot to ask her for it before she left yesterday), and we invented the Snow Day. In our pajamas. Grown women, with a serendipitous day off school. We’ve had at least two more snow days since then that I can remember. We’re lucky. I’ll miss her while she’s away, and I’ll miss her even more when I move.