Old friends, new season

There aren’t many people in this world I’ve known for 30 years — my beloved hubby included — so when I meet up with them for a girls’ weekend, it’s worth a blog post.

I met Michelle and Tyrone (she goes by “Ty”) in 1984. We were all working at Boutique Marie Claire, a women’s clothing chain some of you might remember. It’s still up and running in eastern Canada and Quebec but, going by their website, no longer has locations in the Toronto area. Michelle, Ty and I worked at the Sheppard Centre location, in Toronto’s north end. I was 19 at the time, going to Ryerson and living with my parents at Yonge and St. Clair. Tyrone had recently moved with her family from Sudbury to Toronto’s west end. Michelle, meanwhile, was a farm girl from Zurich, Ontario who had a boyfriend (now her husband) back home and took the train back most weekends to see him.

We were a mixed bag, to say the least. And I don’t think any of us would have predicted our friendship would last through the relationships, relocation, challenges and change that life can throw at you over three decades.

But there we were last weekend, ushering in summer together in London, Ontario in Ty’s exquisite little back patio, surrounded by flowers and warm June sun, sipping cold drinks and reminiscing. And there was no shortage of grist for the memory mill.

We talked about old friends and boyfriends — one of whom, incidentally, Ty has recently reunited with and fallen in love with all over again. He was her high school sweetheart. (I have yet to meet Glenn but he sounds like a terrific guy and treats Ty like a queen — as she so deserves).Tys_backyard

We talked about odd people we used to know, like a former roommate of Michelle’s who had two names — and personalities and voices to go with them: there was “Randy”, the nasally-voiced dweeb who fussed and worried himself silly over everything, and there was the Sam Elliott-voiced manly man who answered the phone as “Wayne”, sounding like he could sell Dodge RAM trucks. What’s up with that, you ask? Michelle still doesn’t know. Though Randy/Wayne, if you’re reading this: thank you — you gave us a lot of laughs last weekend.

We also talked a lot about Grand Bend — our long-ago summer haunt on Lake Huron, made particularly convenient by the fact that Michelle lived in Exeter (and still does), about 20 minutes away. Oh, the summer days and nights we spent cruising the beach and bars in the Bend with Michelle’s local, very friendly gang of friends. I remember sitting at crowded tables, sipping tall bottles of Blue Light (when it was new) and watching videos on MTV (it was new too). I remember Phil Collins (“Sussudio”), Gino Vanelli (“Black Cars”), and Wham (“Go Go”). I remember striped t-shirts, big hair, plastic bangles, and neon eye-shadow (which I believe, if I’m as hip to the jive as I think I am, has made a recent comeback).

Ty and I would take the train from Toronto to St. Mary’s, southwest of Stratford, and Michelle (and often her boyfriend Fred) would pick us up and drive us the final leg of the journey to Exeter. There, we would bunk in Michelle’s cozy apartment, spreading clothes and makeup around the place. We would take hours to “get ready” before going out and, when we finally did, would leave behind a cloud of cigarette smoke, perfume, hair spray and nail polish fumes.

At the end of the night, with makeup sweated off and hair uncurled, we would stop by the Derby Dip, a terrific little one-off burger joint that spawned a mantra all three of us still remember: “Hip, hip, the Derby Dip; here, here, another beer!” (Hey, it was the 80s.)

They were great times, and gave us many great summer memories. And now, as I type this, pausing to look out the window at a beautiful sunny, blue-sky-ed Friday, the first official long weekend (I’m off Monday June 30th) of another summer beckons. I’m deliciously anticipating a few days of relaxing with cold beverages, maybe some good movies, a great book, and the odd nap.

In between, I will be thinking about summers past, and the good friends I’ve been lucky to share them with. Happy Canada Day to you all.



Me, Michelle and Ty

2 thoughts on “Old friends, new season

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