House Rules For A Childhood Friend

Posted on
Apr 12, 2012

My friend Katie is coming to visit. By the time this post goes live, she’ll be here.

I have been nervously anticipating her visit, in the same way I do all encounters with friends from my childhood. Katie and I have known eachother since the fifth grade. For more than two decades, she’s had some role in my life, bet it supporting, star, or the special guest who pops up now and then during Sweeps week.

The last time she came to town, a nose-picking orgy ensued.

Having a shared history together, I am petrified that I may do something in the present to screw it up. To taint childhood memories. To make things go south in a way that leaves me clutching my heart and thinking, “Why did that happen?”

I know how difficult it is to sustain friendships over decades. I know how difficult it is to have houseguests. And so, prior to Katie’s arrival, I sent her an email. A list of house rules for her visit. But not really. This was it:

  1. If we get into a fight, we have to work it out. There will be no dealbreakers, none of that “I’m never talking to her again” bullshit. I didn’t help you copy my homework in the seventh grade to have things end stupidly between us in our 30s.
  2. If you want to borrow something, you absolutely can. Yes, even my underwear. No, not the pair I’m wearing.
  3. Please make yourself at home. Raid the fridge. Watch TV. Browse pornography on Rand’s computer. Whatever. But call me if you encounter anything that involves either Jeff Goldblum or frosting. Preferably both.
  4. If I’m in my room and you want to talk to me, please come in. It weirds me out when people stand in the doorway and just stare in, like it’s a temple for some religion that isn’t theirs. Trust me: it’s a den of godlessness in there.
  5. I am totally not having sex with my husband at any point during your stay. So if you hear any weird noises, I’m probably just having that dream where I’m wrestling the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man again. (Somehow, I feel that telling you this will be comforting.)
  6. I might make you go to a Barre workout class with me. It’s awful. Or, if you’d rather, we can just eat cupcakes. Whatever.
  7. At some point, you may notice that I haven’t shaved my legs in 2012. Tell no one.
  8. If I cry when we go see The Hunger Games, please don’t make fun of me. Also, in my house, we are on Team Peeta.
  9. I don’t have any pictures of you framed on my walls yet. It’s not because I don’t love you. It’s because I’m horrifically lazy.
  10. (Note: Katie is allergic to lemons.) If I accidentally squirt lemon in the air, it’s because I forgot. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. If I do it twice, feel free to yell and/or hit me upside the head. If I do it three times, we may need to sit down and talk about why I secretly hate you. If I do it four times, you can retaliate with whatever weapon you deem fit.
  11. Can we go to the butterfly room at the Pacific Science Center? (This isn’t really a rule.)
  12. I love you. (This isn’t really a rule, either. Well, it kind of is, I guess.)

I sent it, and wondered instantly if she’d take it the wrong way. Did I come off as bitchy? Uncaring? Was it just rude to send her a list of rules, no matter how ridiculous and tongue-in-cheek?

Reflections on the side of the EMP.

I worry, because I have so much invested in her, in our friendship, in our collective childhoods. And then she sends me an email that remains why I invested so much.

“I agree to adhere to all said rules as best as I can. In exchange for your generous hospitality I promise to shower a few times and have some level of control over my situational Tourette’s.”

And, oh, let’s not forget the post-script, regarding my unshorn legs:

“Perhaps Rand and I need to schedule an intervention.”

Of course. This is Katie. The girl who zipped across traffic on my last trip to L.A., so I could deposit the contents of my stomach on the side of the road. She’s still my friend, after twenty years.

And regardless of what happens this week, she always will be.

(Unless she’s on Team Gale. Then shit is going to get real.)

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