The first in a series of long-winded expressions of gratitude.
When most people say they have known someone their whole life, the farthest back that usually goes is, what, like Kindergarten, if they're really lucky?
Well, Cheryle and I have known each other since day one. Literally. We were born on the same day in the same hospital. She is exactly, to the minute, four hours older than me.
In a flurry of baby dressing activity, a nurse even delivered Cheryle to MY mom... Fortunately for all of us, my mom was awake when I was born and could tell that the baby being handed to her was a full two pounds heavier than the one she gleefully popped out just a short time earlier. *whew!*
Well, eventually, the "Baby Weber" bracelet probably would have given away her true identity, but it's kind of fun to pretend we were almost, dun, dun, DUN... "SWITCHED AT BIRTH!!"
Now, it's not like Cheryle and I have remained in constant contact our entire lives, and that's part of what make our story so cool.
We had a couple of birthdays together, then, as often happens in life, the families kind of drifted and lost track of each other.
I grew up hearing the story of Cheryle's and my hospital "close-call," but completely forgot about her by the time I was ten... kind of.
In eighth grade, and living in a totally different town, I started talking to a girl in my Commercial Art class and our conversation turned to star signs.
"You're a Gemini, too? Cool. When's your birthday?"
"NO WAY! ME TOOOO!" (Be sure to hear this entire conversation in your best 13-year-old-girl voice)
"Where were you born?"
"NO WAY! ME TOOOO!"
"OH MY GOSH! YOU'RE 'CHERYLE!'"
I had found my long lost "birthday twin."
We went to junior high and high school together and were good friends, but hung out in slightly different groups that occasionally overlapped. I didn't really fit into any particular group, so I built my own with a rich variety of other kids who also didn't match any pre-determined mold.
She was on dance team, in the choir, went on trips to Europe and such with said groups... I was on swim team, hung out in the Library with my hodge-podge people and missed my chance at a trip to Germany when the restaurant where I worked after school closed without telling anyone.
By the end of high school, we both were highly distracted with serious boyfriends and upon graduation, once again, we lost track of each other.
Then, after spending my Freshman year at U of O, I ran into her in the common area of Portland Community College. We decided the universe was telling us something and vowed to never be parted again.
Each was the other's maid of honor (no, we didn't marry the high school boyfriends) and the couples hung out together from time to time... and then our lives took different turns... again.
Years passed... again.
This time, Cheryle was deep in crisis.
When I'm in trouble, I rally my people around me and cry out desperately for help. Cheryle is much more stoic and turns inward. I had no idea what she was going through, though I felt something was seriously wrong. I called repeatedly, but couldn't reach her. My messages went unanswered.
When she was ready, she "Googled" me and got back in touch.
She never got my phone message because her husband made sure she didn't. He was isolating her. It's not hard to know the next step.
After months of recovering and with a shiny, new love in her life, she was ready to get back in touch and check in.
By that point, I was living in the country with a couple of babies, running my own business.
She lives in a condo with her fella and, though she dotes on a beloved niece, doesn't want kids of her own.
She loves "corporate culture" and "power lunches."
I ran screaming from "big business" after ten years and can't imagine ever working for someone else again.
Our lives are very, VERY different... and yet, this big, cosmic magnet keeps slamming us back together when we drift too far apart.
And, while our differences are pronounced and make "comparing and contrasting" a lot of fun, there are some very interesting similarities...
She's a web marketing specialist. I have an ad agency and design web sites.
She graduated with honors in English. I scored two points shy of perfect on the Test For Standard Written English on my SATs (though I talked myself out of persuing a degree in it).
We both have a passion for amazing food, art and music, have adventurous spirits and a deep attachment to our families.
She has four cats. I have seven.
To know someone for 40 years is very unusual, indeed. And, even though we have had years-long gaps in our relationship, whenever our paths cross, it's like no time has passed at all. We are instantly caught up, the rest is just a matter of dialogue.
It is a Divine gift to have people in one's life with whom there is such a connection that time and distance are meaningless.
I have been overly-blessed with such relationships... and I was lucky enough to get my first one upon my inauguration into this life.