34: A Friend Across the Street

34: A Friend Across the Street

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls

A Friend Across the Street

If you have two friends in your lifetime, you’re lucky. If you have one good friend, you’re more than lucky.

~S.E. Hinton

I met Colleen Tuthill about six years ago, when we moved from Bozeman, Montana to Whitehall. We bought a place with thirty acres. The Tuthills lived across the road from us. They had two boys, close in age to our older two.

I’m a pretty shy person and tend to keep to myself, and with three boys and a writing career, I don’t have a lot of down time. So it took most of the summer before I had the courage to actually cross the road and introduce myself.

The first social thing we did was go to their house for supper. We liked each other immediately. We had similar families and backgrounds. And we had a lot of parallels in our lives. We were both stay-at-home moms, we both had houses full of males. We both married men ten years older than us, we both enjoyed being at home, and we both liked to walk.

Over a few months time, we started going for daily walks, spending an hour together getting to know each other. And the more we talked, the more I liked her. I found someone I could confide in, someone I could share secrets with. Sometimes you just need a woman in your life who understands.

As the last six years have unfolded, four of our combined five boys now have driver’s licenses, one has graduated, one is a junior, one is a sophomore, and one is a freshman. My youngest is in third grade. Her boys call me Mom. Mine call her the same.

We rely on each other to get our kids places and to do chores. But most important? We know we can call the other one at any time.

There are days when I’m sad for no reason or I’ve had a bad mothering day or I’ve had a fight with my husband. I know I can call Colleen, talk for thirty minutes and have a whole new outlook on my day. And the same goes for her.

We started going to Butte together once a week — it’s a community about twenty-five miles from us. We do our grocery shopping and other errands together, and we usually splurge for lunch. We’ve gone Christmas shopping together, and we have our favorite restaurants, depending on what town we’re in. In Butte, it’s the Greek place. In Bozeman, it’s Cajun.

Our birthdays are close together — mine is December 1, hers is December 3. We try to have some kind of celebration around that time — we treat ourselves to lunch or something fun.

A couple of years ago, Colleen introduced me to her homemade “tea.” It was actually Irish cream, but she drank it out of a tea mug. It has become our private joke. And when we have the need, we can whip up a bottle for sharing and drink our tea during the afternoon. The same goes for margaritas. Some summer days, when all the boys are occupied, we’ll get together for icy, slushy margaritas, and just enjoy.

We have a fire pit in our east pasture, and we normally host cookouts during the year. Typically, we have one on Memorial Day weekend, Fourth of July, and Labor Day weekend — if the boys don’t have any rodeos. The Tuthills have a standing invitation to those.

The best part of my best friend is that she doesn’t judge me. I can be my petty, neurotic self around her, and she gets me. We don’t agree about everything, but we’re okay with not agreeing.

One great thing I’ve rediscovered with Colleen is that I’m an interesting and fun person. I had forgotten about my life before I was “Mom.” My youngest still needs me to be a full-time presence in his life, and I cherish that. But my older two boys are carving out their own lives now and I find that I have more available time to cultivate my life again. Colleen helps me remember that I can be witty and charming. I can tell bad jokes. And I can try new things.

We’re good for each other. Together, we’re brave enough to take on projects that alone we wouldn’t dare. And we give each other the kick in the butt that is sometimes needed. But above all, we listen to each other. And we empathize with one another. And we laugh!

The best compliment that I’ve had in a long time came from Colleen. She was making a list of ten nice things she could do for herself. And one of her ten was “Call Jodi.” How great is that?

~Jodi Icenoggle

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