Today is the anniversary of my oldest friendship. My friend is . fellow artist, Karen Mac Kenzie Brydon. We met when we were eleven turning twelve. Our birthdays are one week apart. We have shared many adventures through time.
I remember meeting Karen at the gym in Saint Francis High School in Calgary Alberta Canada.
We were attending a gymnastics class. My friend Lucille had convinced me to go and told me that there was a girl there who called herself Kitty. Her mom was divorced and she dressed like she thought she was somebody she wasn't. I was convinced I would hate her! Was prepared to hate her to be loyal to Lucille.
And there she was. Sitting on the high beams in jeans and a belly reveling halter top with a strange accent that turned out to be affected and genuine at the same time. She had cowboy boots and braids and she even dragged out a cigarette. She spit and swore and had long hair and an overbite. I was completely shocked by her and smitten.
She had another girl who was her best friend named Jackie Wilson. I had already been in mud throwing battles with Jackie and she made me laugh. Jackie also smoked cigarettes that she stole from her dad.
I was a well behaved but willful honour student and these two knew how to party , build duck ponds ride horses backwards and do trick riding on their bikes. They would mock me if I used important words. They read words off the cigarette package like aquafuge. But I knew what they were. I had to know them.
Turned out that "Kitty" wasn't "Kitty" but Karen and she lived in a little bungalow up the hill. Her mother was beyond glamorous and was rather like a beatnik and there was art everywhere. She had "cocktails" and let her children do what they pleased. This included cooking what they wanted , going into the cupboards by themselves and digging duck ponds in the yard.
Karen decided to move into the doghouse. No problem as long as you brush your teeth. Jackie moved in with her and I tried but there wasn't any room so I had to go home. Karen lit fires in the yard and cooked canned beans. She had a Shepard named Lassie who protected all of us.
She also had terrible allergies.
Her father was a body builder who lived in a huge house in the richer part of town and he played classical guitar. He gave me a caliper test when he was introduced to me to figure out what my height weight statistics were and decided I was a lovely girl who was fit enough for his daughter.
I was dancing all the time doing afro jazz ballet. I was also nearly the same height /I am now which is about 5 foot nine inches.
Her grandparents were even more glamorous. They lived in a little farm at the edge of town. It was not an ordinary farm but a super modern acreage that had a super modern house on it that was built from the future plans from the popular mechanics and it was covered with important art from people like Emily Carr and Lauren Harris. Her grandfather was an artist too. His name was J.D. Turner and her grandmother was the potter Grace Turner. She looked like Anais Nin.
They assumed I was worthy. They fed me Beef Wellington and Yorkshire puddings. She saved wild flowers and planted them all over the property. Some of the flowers were only survivors when she died at ninety. I loved them all with all my heart.
They nurtured my soul and my mother often fed Karen when more creative types forgot. The creative types nurtured me when my family just thought I was strange and needed punishment and reformation.
We also nurture one another through all parts of life. Through births and deaths and changing lives. Through marriage failure and crisis... through successes and creativity.
Our relationship is now 45 years old. It is old enough to go into menopause. It remains enduring and delightful.
Today we celebrated it with egg tarts and chocolate slices while listening to her grand daughter Bailey sing her baby song.