Bonnie is a one in a million best friend. I met her when we were 18 and it was love at first sight. She looked like a doll with her rosy cheeks, her long long blond hair and her red pea coat. She was still in high school and visiting one of my sorority pals for a glimpse of college life. We all know she was there for the beer and the boys, but she looked so innocent with her sparkly eyes and sweet smile.
The next time I saw her was the next school year when she joined my sorority, the day she moved in she looked less like a doll and a bit more like one of the cool girls from Dazed and Confused. She was wearing cut offs and a vintage tshirt that said Cigar Smokers Make the Best Lovers. Totally random and totally Bonnie. She was as sweet as pie with a wild carefree side that guaranteed fun. Yoga class through the experimental college was the first time Bonnie and I ventured off on our own. Our teacher Vijay was a character who we both found hilarious and a memorable figure in the start of our friendship.
Bonnie loved to dance and sing, and it was contagious. Being rather inhibited on the dance floor myself, it was not only ridiculously fun but therapeutic to party with Bonnie. She could dance a boogie nights routine effortlessly, and I would like to think that I picked up a move or two from her over the years. One day, or more likely middle of the night, we saw an infomercial for entertainment magazine that offered a disco's greatest hits collection as a free gift with subscription. We ordered the mag and waited for our CD like little kids wait for Christmas. When it finally came it was everything we could have hoped for: Heart of Glass, Oh What a Night, You Can Ring My Bell, Kung Fu Fighting, EVERY fabulous disco song you can think of. By this time we had moved out of the sorority and planned our first house party around our new prized possession, Disco theme of course. I have more priceless moments engraved in my memory from that night than all subsequent college parties thereafter combined.
As time passed, Bonnie proved to be a girl whose character amazed me. She made friends everywhere she went and once you were her friend it was for life. She was attractive in her kindness and fun loving nature, but you could also always count on Bonnie to tell it how it was, no sugar coating, keeping it real. It is hard to describe, but sometimes there are those special people who when you think of them, you can only think of the good and the love, that has always been Bonnie for me.
Toward the end of college, Bonnie gave me something priceless, a curiosity for traveling and experiencing the world outside of my comfort zone. Bonnie had been an exchange student in high school in Bolivia, and then studied in Ecuador for a quarter in college. The winter that she was gone, I missed her so much, it was rainy and boring in Seattle. When she came back, I realized that not a darn thing had changed while she was gone, except for her. She was tan, exhilarated, and culturally enriched. I was totally inspired to adventure, to see more of the world, and to have an extraordinary experience myself. Bonnie gave me courage and curiosity which blossomed into wanderlust. I will always be indebted to her for that gift. If you know me, you would know that this was a huge revelation, I am a creature of habit prone to nerve wracked stomachaches in moments of uncertainty. But the next fall I found myself living in Italy. I still had a stomachache and chronic nervous diarrhea for the first six weeks, but I also fell in love with independence and Rome of course! I decided to stay for as long as I could. 8 months later my dad came over to fetch me home. I had been thinking a lot about the friends and family who were so far away, especially my dad's family whose history I was pretty unfamiliar with. So when my dad came to visit I asked him to tell me some details like names and places and so on. He started with his mom, her dad was a Foreman and her mom was a Strader. Hmm, I mentioned that my friend Bonnie was a Strader too!
A month or two later, back in the good old USofA, living in Seattle, back to my old tricks and habits and best buddies. Bonnie and I are bored, so we hatch a plan to head down to University Avenue, starting at one end to see if we can hit every bar for one drink all the way to the other end. If we had made it, which we did not, I think it would have been like 25 bars and probably just as much barfing on my part. Somewhere along the way, sitting on a bar stool, I am looking at Bonnie and BLING! I remember! HEY!!! I just remembered, I think we are cousins!!! is all I have to say. Without even hearing the story of Italy, dad, blah blah blah, her response was Of course we are, it totally makes sense.
I will always love her for that response. We confirmed it the next day with her dad Vern, the family historian, that yes we were cousins. Vern and my Grandma Sylvia were first cousins, so Bon and my dad are second cousins, which just makes me once removed or something, whatever! who cares, from then on we always LOVED to say hey cousin! or this is my cousin...or my personal favorite don't be jealous of us just because you're not our cousin. It was endless fun.
Years pass with more dancing, the best costume parties, camping trips, a fun companion for anything artsy or craftsy or unpredictable, museums, coffee shops, thrift store shopping, puyallup fair, karaoke, concerts, music loving mixed tapes, meeting Willie Nelson, photo shoots, storytelling, weird boyfriends, Harry Potter, Red Mill burgers, people watching, family gatherings, and most recently an important dear friend to me as I started a new life as a mom. Bonnie embraced being an auntie and the babies loved her. She is someone to call for no reason and if you don't get a hold of her have no shame for calling 8 times again that same day and leaving messages every time if she still doesn't answer, and knowing that she will love it.