A Very Merry
Today Chloë turns twenty-six. For her birthday, I wrote a blog post so she wouldn’t have to.
Posted by Stephanie
Chloë and I met many times before we were friends.
We grew up in neighbouring villages south of Ottawa, Ontario. The Filsons lived in Osgoode village, and my family lived about fifteen minutes (by car) north of there, closer to Metcalfe. Because of this, we were in different elementary school districts, and didn’t meet until the seventh grade, at Metcalfe Public School, the magnet school. We were in different classes, and I wouldn’t have really known her from the others, except for one thing: we were both, for better or for worse, in the gifted program.
Now, I had been in the gifted program at Metcalfe Public School long enough to develop an extreme dislike for it. This dislike was compounded when, in an effort to rejuvenate the program, our teacher decided to give us a nickname: the Lazers. Yes, you read that misspelling correctly. The only thing I remember about her logic was something about Klingons. I had not then, and have not now, seen “Star Trek”, but I knew enough to know that it was not cool, and neither was gifted class, and this was no way to fit in. I was quietly mortified.
I would love for this story to go on like this: I thought everyone was lame, but then Chloë won me over with her relentless friendly nature and wonderful sense of humour. We took control of Lazers and made it the coolest club in our tiny rural school, winning over our classmates and creating a new culture of enlightened seventh-graders.
Unfortunately, this is not what happened. My memory of this time is spotty at best, but I was not friends with Chloë. I didn’t know much about her except that she was a very talented artist; I knew that she went to camp and I remember a picture she once drew of all her camp friends. I was impressed by her artistic talent and also jealous that she had so many close friends outside of school when all I had was people I seemed to be friends with but didn’t really fit in with at all.
In eighth grade I quit gifted class. We were, again that year, in different classes and didn’t interact much at all.
In ninth grade, I chose the locker beside Chloë’s. Not on purpose; I actually chose it because it was near my homeroom. Turns out Chloë’s homeroom was right beside mine. Despite fate clearly wanting us to be friends, we mostly just said hi to each other (somewhat awkwardly on my part, probably) in the mornings, and went on with our separate days.
Enter Mia Jensen, a lovely, hilarious girl who would go on to become Chloë’s and my best friends and who shared with me a frustration for grade nine French class. Mia and I bonded over verb conjugations, and I started eating lunch with her and Chloë. Over the course of the rest of the year, I slowly realized that these two girls were amazing. They were funny, they were smart, and why wasn’t I hanging out with them all the time?
In a previous post I believe Chloë has mentioned that I “ditched [my] other, cooler friends to hang out with [her].” She frequently describes our friendship as starting this way, and I always disagree somewhat. But getting to know Chloë and Mia coincided with my realization that I needed to stop hanging out with my childhood friends, that we had stayed friendly more out of habit than anything else, and that I wasn’t happy with that. Looking back, I think seeing these two confident girls, outside what I had always considered the “cool” circle but so happy and fun, had a lot more to do with my “defection” than I realized at the time.
The rest of high school is a bit of an astounding blur. Chloë and I joked our way through grade ten science, making up “scientific” pamphlets and inventing a backstory for the poor kid featured in our textbooks. (If you’re curious, his name is Pierrenandez and he hails from a maligned nation called Quebexico. His favourite foods are tacos and bagels.) [Editor’s note: “He eats salsa on his bagels and poutine in his tacos; he’s Pierrenandez, the Quebexican.” Later, an Ottawa hardcore band named themselves “Quebexico”. Their frontman was an acquaintance of ours who had totally stolen the name. I guess that’s okay…]
I slept at Chloë’s house just as often as my own, it seems, playing board games with the Filsons and staying up too late on weekends watching old episodes of The X Files and sighing over Fox Mulder. We agonized over math class together and delighted in teasing our English teacher. (She was pregnant; we speculated that she was pregnant with robot twins. I actually don’t know how we got away with that.) Chloë was always up for a party but also always willing to leave the party with me when the crowds got to be too much. Mia graduated high school a year ahead of us, and Chloë completed her OAC credits in one semester before moving to Saskatoon to live with her family; high school was strange and much less fun without them.
Though we went to different universities, Chloë and I kept in touch. It was not the same as high school, when we saw each other every day; often we’d go months without much communication. But (and I used to find this rather surprising, but now it is accepted and comforting) every time we met it was as if no time had passed. We still got along very well, our jokes were still all funny, and we could relate to each other’s contemporary lives and not just rely on recollections of the glory days. Most of our correspondence was online, with, as Chloë has mentioned, one yearly phone call around our birthdays or New Year’s.
I always take a certain pride in being Chloë’s friend because, as I noticed early on in our friendship and have continued to notice since, everyone wants to be. She’s a warm, intelligent, caring individual, passionate about what she believes in and accepting of others. At the risk of sounding sappy, having her in my life has made it so much better.
I am writing this post at 11:45 p.m. Toronto time. Where Chloë lives, it is her birthday already. Tomorrow I will call her, and she will tease me about the knowledge she has gained from being twenty-one days older, and say what a shame it is that I am only twenty-five and therefore unwise still. I look forward to it.
Happy birthday, Filson.
How did you guys meet Chloë? Please share in the comments!