The Story: It’s funny when people are so much a part of the fabric of your life that you have no idea how to even tell the story. I anticipate the same thing in the posts for my brothers and Tiff and Dave and Katie. Where do you start? What stories do you tell? How can you even begin to do justice to the person? This is how I feel about Christina. Sometimes I feel like she is the adult version of my other half, the way Jessica was my other half as a kid. We’re so different in so many ways but sometimes it feels like we share a brain (which comes in especially handy during board games).
Here are a couple of the stories I could tell about her:
• Christina was the first person I called when I found my pet turtle Max dead after almost 19 years together. She was working as a funeral director at the time so she was particularly relevant to the situation. She came over immediately and put her funeral director skills to work helping me process the loss and figure out what to do next. She even took ink prints of his paws for posterity and then she had him cremated for me.
• There is the story of when we went to Boca Grande for our first girls’ weekend and we tried to lift a golf cart out of the garage because Julia had maneuvered it so it was wedged up against the wall.
• There was also our second girls’ trip to Montreal and our outing to the (male) strip club. Or the time for Justyn’s birthday a bunch of us went to the (female) strip club. Both outings were absolutely hysterical, for very different reasons and we will never look at vanilla pudding quite the same way again.
• Or the night we stole Tilt out of the boys’ car when they made a roadside pit stop on our way up to the mountains for a weekend adventure. Had they pulled into a gas station so the girls could pit stop as well, they may not have lost as much of their stash. Not that they realized they lost their stash, but that’s another story altogether.
• Or how she gets me to do outdoorsy things like snowshoeing…in the woods…at night.
The bottom line is, when Christina and I are together, there’s typically a good amount of silliness and lot of laughing, which is very, very good for my soul.
Not that everything has always been sunny. We’ve both had our share of personal and professional challenges, and we’ve each survived a serious heartbreak since we’ve been friends. During those times, it’s been nice to have someone to talk to, or just be with and not talk to, or snuggle up with or avoid reality with.
I originally met Christina through the Manchester Young Professionals Network. She worked on a committee while I was on the board. She went to all the events and was highly involved with the organization.
After I split with Andy, and spent some time healing and becoming myself again, I was looking for some new friends. Nikki, who had been my best friend for almost seven years, had met a man and gotten engaged and her life took her in another direction so I found myself reconstituting my social life, nearly from scratch.
That’s when Christina and I began to develop the friendship that has been blossoming for the past five years. She is a core member of my framily, and her parents, George and Kathy, feel like beloved in-laws, spending some holidays and a few weekends a year in NH with me and my family.
Christina also holds the title of Cat Whisperer on the Board of The 100 Club, which is the name we’ve given to my residence and which also houses the world headquarters of Savoir Faire.
Christina has this thing she can do to most cats that is both strange and amazing: she can put them into a trance, at which point you can mess with them, kind of like someone who’s been hypnotized. We call it cat whispering. This is one of those odd talents that is so weird you wonder how the person even found the ‘talent’ to begin with!
Regardless, Christina has always been our resident cat expert, which is how she became a part of the story of how I became the proud parent to a charming stray named Tuna (who refuses to be whispered, by the by).
Two and a half years ago, my brother Tim rescued a little black cat out of a tree at my parents’ house in the middle of the night. Then he fed her a can of tuna. Then the cat hung around the house for more than a week. I would get updates from both Tim and my mother, who couldn’t walk too near windows overlooking the porch or else the cat would start talking to and meowing at her.
At some point during this time, I got this strange idea that I was going to adopt the kitty. Tim told me that I could take the cat on the condition that I keep the name he had given her: Tuna.
This was strange for me because, to make the point clear, I am a lifelong hater of cats. I don’t like cats. Never have. Got that trait from my parents. But there Christina and I are, at my parents’ house on a Friday night checking out this random cat.
Within minutes of our arrival, the cat appears at my feet and allows me to pick her up and snuggle with her. She purrs in my ear. She finishes snuggling, jumps down and wanders her way to the end of the yard. I call her and she comes trotting back to my feet. I pick her up and snuggle again. She soaks it up for a little while, jumps down and meanders to the end of the porch. I call her and she comes right back to me again.
Now, I don’t know much about cats but this seems pretty far out of the ordinary to me. Even Christina is a little surprised. So I announce that, if she allows me to put her in the car, then I’ll take her home for a trial run. I can always put her back out on the streets, right?
I pick her up, walk her over to the car and open the door, at which time she hops her little self right in like she knows it’s time to go home. This is how I know that Tuna, Toonces, Princess Tuna Cakes, Kitten-shantz, Loving, Littlest, and whatever else I call her, actually chose me and not the other way around.
Tuna spent her first 36 hours at Auntie Christina’s house, until Christina could get me to Pet Smart where she led me up and down the aisles, pointing out all the things I would need as a new kitten owner – even though I wasn’t convinced at the time that I was really going to keep her.
A few weeks after she came to live with me, Tiff came over one day to find my couch entirely covered in tinfoil, which I had read online would stop her from scratching it. That’s the day she knew that Tuna was never going back out on the streets and I would sacrifice my beloved, gorgeous couch to a little black furball.
Tuna isn’t the only one who spent time at Christina’s.
Christina had an apartment that she made into such a wonderful home that we all spent quite a bit of time over there. She put on Easter parties, New Year’s Eve parties, dinner parties, comfort food nights, game nights, pot luck nights, movie nights…she was a fantastic hostess. Movie nights were my favorites since there would be about eight of us snuggled up under blankets on her couches.
Movie nights and comfort food nights, not to mention the Easter Party and other festivities, are on hiatus right now since Christina has moved to Keene to attend grad school. She’s too far away, and we miss her terribly, but a girl’s gotta follow her dreams. I’ve just got my fingers crossed that, when she graduates next May, she moves back to Manchester (and, even better, into Uncle Mark’s apartment across the alley from me!) so we can take the ‘long distance’ out of our relationship.
The Drink: Christina was a funeral director for five years. Plus, she just has this thing for zombies. She loves zombie movies, no matter how bad they are. She may have been one of the easiest calls when it came to what to drink; the Zombie was a no brainer.
The cool thing about our drink is where it took place. While she was in school, Christina lived in Brookline, around Coolidge Corner. I lived about three stops down the C line on the Boston/Brookline border. She was a manager at the Pier 1 where I used to shop. It’s quite possible she helped me pick out a tablecloth or went out back to find me a matching candlestick not on the shelf.
Golden Temple is a very well known Chinese restaurant just up the street from where she lived and we both used to go there, so it was a great choice to commemorate our friendship and the place it could have started if only the Universe didn’t want us to wait a couple more years to meet.