By Megana Hosein
Like to a double cherry—seeming parted
But yet an union in partition—
Two lovely berries molded on one stem
- William Shakespeare
Our friendship began very simply. She could walk, run, at 9 months. And I could talk. A lot. There’s a picture of us from this time of early connection. We are at our preschool, names pinned to the backs of our outfits. I am sitting on the dirt, gesturing and prattling. She is running circles around me, too busy moving to worry about words. We were opposites in most ways, flip sides of the same coin as they say. Her name is Lisa Megan. My name is Megan Elisabeth. It worked.
My mom tells me that we were instantly drawn to one another, and luckily, our mothers got along. Both women were stay at home mothers excited about having little girls that they could dress up. So after a day naked in the mud at our progressive preschool, they would hose us off, color coordinate us in hair bows and Mary Janes, and take us out to the Bullock’s department store tea room for lunch. In a few years our friendship would be cemented by our mothers’ decision to start us on Suzuki violin lessons at age 3. Little did they know then that over the next 15 years our mutual hatred of practicing day in and day out while everyone else got to go outside and play (yes we spoke as if we were prisoners being tortured in a tower) would bond us forever.
After preschool, we went to the same school from Kindergarten until 5th grade. My memory of other friendships during those years is dim, because I hardly had any. Although the school intentionally separated us into two different classrooms, our worlds revolved around one another in this tight, intense, whirlwind of our minds and fertile imaginations. Very little outside of Us mattered, we barely even registered it. Every once in a while we’d reach out to our classmates if we needed actors for a highly involved musical we’d written, or needed bodies for an elaborate quasi-Satanic ritual, but mostly we kept to ourselves.
For this reason I think I was one of the few only children I know that was never lonely. I had a sister but didn’t have to share. Ideal, really. And we fought like sisters, really fought, no-holding-back fighting. But there was safety in that fighting. Lisa was a gifted gymnast and much better at violin than I was, but I was proud of her for these things. And she never made me feel weird about my highly un-cool love for all things Victorian. I was very emotional and affectionate, she didn’t like to hug. But we were both obsessed with Anne of Green Gables. We knew every line from The Parent Trap. We made home movies and wrote long, overly verbose, morbid stories. For those years I was spared the heartaches of cliques and fickle girl friendships so many people experienced and felt very lucky.
And for this reason, when Lisa went to a different school for 6th grade and I remained, my whole world crumbled. Not only was my best friend gone, but there I was, thrown into the prepubescent Hell of a lion’s den that was middle school, without a clue as to how to survive. The next 3 years were a gloomy haze punctuated by bad grades (F- in math), minor pranks (turning off the water supply to the school), boy teasing (“white as a tooth and never been drilled”—thanks Dion and Sean), skipped classes, rudeness, rebellion, and vandalism (taking Sharpie to the newly built bathroom — not awesome).
I was put into a prestigious girls’ school. It saved me. I still had Lisa and our friendship was strong, but I learned to make other amazing and close friends, re-found self confidence, and pulled it together enough to get into a number of colleges that my father could brag about, that made it all “worth it” with his teachers’ salary and two supplemental incomes. College decision in the end came down to, not surprisingly, where Lisa was going so we could be close enough to visit. Our college choices were as different as our personalities but we enjoyed visiting back and forth and getting to know our respective college best friends. It wasn’t always easy, and for the first time we started growing apart. We became extreme versions of ourselves in that typical college way—I went grungy retro thrift store hippy, she countered with uber preppy tucked in shirt and white rugby hat. We broke up over it. We got back together. We graduated, partied, fought some more, mellowed, dated, matured, married, and became mothers. Our daughters share a name. I was her first call after her first child was born. She was my first call when I learned of my mother’s cancer.
Although we no longer need each other with the same intensity, there is that unspoken comfort that what we have is something that will be with us for all of the celebrations and sadness and heartaches to come. She is the constant, the backbone, the thread, the undercurrent, the witness, to my entire life.
Megana Hosein is a Southern California native. After attending Vassar College, she spent a stint in New York working in publishing before moving with her husband to Menlo Park, California. They have four children ranging in age from nine months to nine years. She manages to sneak out to band practice once a week.