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Monday, January 4, 2010

Friends & Neighbors

It's that time of year again when I hunker down and sort my receipts. All of 2009 will be filed away and stored upstairs in a dark closet, making way for our 2010 spending.

I have two accordion file folders, one for corporate and one for personal receipts. I add up all the tax on my personal receipts, file these and their corporate cousins in their appropriate slots - auto, meals, medical, clothes, entertainment, home improvements, postage, utilities, etc.

I can't help but notice where each receipt is from, the dates, who I was with, all in varying detail. It's a walk down memory lane.

There was the birthday dinner at P.F. Changs for my neighbor. I was invited along with all her "friends". I hadn't made it to that level of distinguishment yet; I was introduced to her 25 or more "true friends", her friends of several or more years as, "my neighbor".

At the end of the evening after lots of laughs and drinks, I noticed no one had bothered to pick up the birthday girl's tab. It was ignored until it couldn't be ignored anymore. I paid it - $55.00 or so. Lowly me. The "neighbor".

I found a receipt for the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Houston, TX. It was me and my neighbor again, having lunch with our young children before heading over to the Aquarium across the street to ride the colorful carousel and check out a bored white tiger. We had a good time, laughing at sophomoric humor while waiting in line for a train ride that wasn't worth the wait. As we waited she advised me on how to blow dry my hair to make it lie down better in the front, and that wasn't the first time she actually improved my looks with her girly "know-how". There was a $255 receipt that was testimony to this, her hairdresser "to the stars" that she'd introduced me to, and I've been ravishing ever since.

She taught me to shop for myself, put myself first, dress more beautifully, be more current. I lost the 30 lbs gained during my last pregnancy with more focus on my appearance. I felt prettier. No receipt for that last one.

There are other receipts for several years' worth of gifts bought for her or her young son's birthdays, Christmases, Halloween Boo packages; there are receipts for the several casual lunches enjoyed at various Sugar Land eateries or at the Bounce-U where our children romped together for hours while we talked about nothing and everything. There was the receipt for the outfit I bought to wear out for a night of dinner and dancing on my sixth wedding anniversary, a celebration shared with my neighbor and her own husband.

There are cell phone statements showing the many hours we, or rather she, spent talking. She always had a strong need to talk and I always wondered where her other 25 "true friends" were while she was spending so many hours on the phone with just, me.

Besides the receipts there are other reminders of my "neighbor", like her empty house across the street. She moved away two weeks ago to a happening part of Houston, closer to the action, nearer the cool crowd. She calls these people "cute, fun". But will they pay her birthday tab when her "true friends" choose to ignore it? Hard to say.

I suppose the people in our lives are like our receipts, different value amounts, memories attached, filed away in their appropriate places. I'm still trying to decide where to put the neighbor who isn't my neighbor anymore. If she wasn't and isn't my "friend", I'm afraid I don't have an appropriate slot for her, unless she wouldn't mind being filed away in the "entertainment" section of my "personal" accordion file folder. It may get very lonely upstairs in the dark closet.


  1. This is very deep. How many of our friends are there just for the money, or how many of them are what we consider true friends...

    A great insite, and way to put into words along side of something most of us do every year (prepare for taxes- shudders). You have created a piece here that we can all relate to.

  2. People come and go in your life; sometimes the same person comes & goes several times. I think that a friendship fills a need at the time it happens, or it wouldn't happen at all, and if it turns out that the person was only there for that space of time, at least that space was enriched. Entertainment is a perfectly valid reason for friendship, we all need a little of that in our lives!

  3. Uncanny this - I have an unreleased blog about one particular aspect of a friendship which has a very similar theme ... much enjoyed this and thought-provoking as ever.

  4. I love this. I can't help but think back to our first laughs and story sharing... the stomach hurting, tears flowing times over in "the women's center". What I can't remember is when we first met or our first time out...I so wish I had your way of detailing/compartmentalizing memories. The evil me loves the thought of her being lonely up in that dark closet. Cheap b*#@h.