A Tale of Two Besties
February 20, 2015 5:30 am

Gigglers, remember last December when we asked for your stories of best friendship for our Tale of Two Besties contest? Well, all this week we’ve been counting down our runner-up besties stories, and we’re super excited to announce our grand prize winner today—plus reveal the ‘A Tale of Two Besties‘ cover! Check out Megan Phelps’ amazing BFF story below, which will also be published in ‘A Tale of Two Besties,’ out this May. A huge congratulations to Megan and her BFF, Margot!

M + M: A Bestie Story

California

On the day we met in 2009, my soon-to-be bestie Margot was racing matchbox cars down the driveway with her grandmother. I was sitting in my parents’ house, bored, and strangely attuned to the sounds of the neighborhood, especially sounds that were right next door. I decided to investigate by running outside and casually playing on the wooden swing in our front yard—an awkward excuse to introduce myself. After a few minutes, my mysterious neighbor called me over, her French accent effortlessly cultured.

“This is my granddaughter, Marguerite,” she told me, introducing Margot by her full name. I was nine and Margot was eight at the time, though it never occurred to us to have been bothered by this age difference. I joined their game, playing for hours and stopping only when my mom called me home for dinner. You know that feeling when you click with someone instantly? When just being around them makes you feel more known? That was what happened that summer day with Margot. I met my soul-mate best friend.

We played every waking hour of the remainder of her visit that summer, tiptoeing to each other’s houses as soon as the sun rose to plan our adventures. When we were together that summer (and for years to come) it was hard to imagine anything else. We spent our time splashing in the ocean and people watching, throwing impromptu dance parties, singing together and sewing, making jewelry and sculptures in the sand, and cooking—we especially liked making raspberry sorbet, telling each other it could fix anything.

When Margot finally had to go back home to Montana, I was crushed, but she promised she’d return—and she did, often. These visits continued for years, each more fun than the last. Every time Margot left, I felt alone. But during our time apart, we remained close. We wrote each other long, detailed letters. We sent each other packages filled with things that reminded us of the other: magazine clippings, leaves and pressed flowers, artwork, photos. We sent each other questionnaires and quizzes and drawings that said “I miss you.”

Thoughout all this I would beg my mother to let me visit Margot’s home in Montana. I needed to explore the areas of her world that I’d never seen. Then one day, my mother finally said yes.

Montana 

“Get down!” Margot commanded, though her blue eyes were calm and unworried. We’d just hiked to the highest point in all of her small hometown. I felt cool raindrops fall as I watched streaks of lightning pierce through the big Montana sky, which had begun to darken with puffy storm clouds. Within a few tense seconds, a thunderous boom sounded and that’s when Margot yelled—a lightning storm at this height in this sky could be disastrous. After a minute or so spent crouching on the damp trail, we hurried down the hill. She linked her arm through mine, with a kind of ease that only besties share. The sound of a brook gurgling and the raindrops on the leaves overhead were the only sounds we heard for awhile.

When we broke the silence, Margot chattered about the storm and the moon, which had begun to shine brilliantly through the clouds.

As I gazed up at the sky, the rain left drops, like glistening jewels, on my glasses. I turned my head to look at my friend, familiar and comfortable, noting the blonde strands of hair that the wind had blown onto her face. I marveled at the fact that it was the same face I had seen rounded with laughter in California so many times for so many years. The joyful face I had seen sprayed by the salty ocean after hours spent playing under the San Diego sun. The carefree face painted scarlet with raspberries after we had made sorbet; dusted with flour after we had baked “gateau au chocolat.” The familiar face I had lightly kissed in greeting, first the left, then right, in that sophisticated European way that she had taught me after her summer trips to France.

But there was something more now. This was also the face I had seen stained with tears that came one after the other, each one filled with a deep grief after she’d found out, the winter before, that her dad, her great and amazing dad, who Margot loved as much as anything in the world, had died in a horrible skiing accident.

It was New Year’s Day when we learned of her dad’s death. Margot was visiting her grandmother for the holidays. The night before on New Year’s Eve, Martinelli’s in hand, she’d toasted, “May your troubles list be shorter than your New Year’s Resolutions!” I remember remarking later to my mother, my eyes swollen and my heart sore with empathetic grief, “Margot’s worries list is a lot longer than her New Year’s resolutions.”

Margot flew home the next day to Montana with her grandmother as a chaperone. I felt helplessly detached from her, over 1,100 miles away. She mourned; I cried for her. She mourned; my appetite lessened. She mourned; I missed her sorely and selfishly. She mourned; I wrote her a letter every day for two months—my feeble attempt to lessen her pain.

I had met her dad a single time. I had never been to Montana at that point, but he had come to San Diego once. He was picking up a surfboard which he had stored in Margot’s grandparent’s garage, and Margot introduced me to him. I felt shy, but saw his blue eyes—just like Margot’s—and felt at ease. The conversation ended after 10 minutes. And yet I felt as though knew him. He was a nature-loving guy who loved wolverines and skiing and, even more than anything, he loved his spunky, cheerful daughter. I knew because of the daily postcards he sent her during her visits to California, and because of the way he sounded when he called her on the phone to check in. He made the joke, “Do you want a little toast with that butter?” And now he was gone.

I felt so deeply connected to Margot that when I learned of his death, I was filled with raw sorrow and grief, unlike anything I had experienced before. I had always known logically that death happened, but my sense of it was very vague. For Margot, the experience was exponentially more painful—to a depth I still can’t fathom. It was her first experience with death as well. And I felt more bonded to her because of it.

M + M Forever

“Hey, Megan?” Margot asked, nudging me softly. “You OK?”

“Yeah,” I replied. I felt slow and filled with bittersweet nostalgia. She had her arm around me and pulled me in a little closer, smiling, though the Montana summer air was warm and the rain had only intensified the stickiness of the sweat on my skin.

Margot stopped for a moment. She cleared the leaves from a small patch on the ground, and etched “M + M” into the dirt, the code name we had affectionately given ourselves when we were younger and had never let go.

I responded approvingly, touched by the gesture, and we continued our walk back to her house.

It only took a few moments to get back to her house and without hesitation, Margot put on music and looked back at me with a mischievous grin. We danced until we couldn’t any longer, twirling ourselves and jumping up and down in a far sillier way than we would want anyone else to know.

When her mom reminded us of all the adventures we had planned for the next day, we climbed into the bunk beds in her room, tired from the day of travel. She listened to music as I read a book I had found on her shelf. After a few minutes, Margot looked down at me from the top bunk, her face flushed with warmth.

“I’m glad you’re here,” she told me, smiling.

“Me too,” I responded, and she smiled broader. I pulled the sheet that covered me closer.

“Goodnight,” Margot whispered, turning out the light. “Sleep tight.”

“Goodnight,” I whispered back, my eyelids growing heavier with each word. “Don’t let the bedbugs bite.”

Before I drifted off to sleep, I remembered the letters we had written each other when we were nine, before we had been allowed into the digital world. She would tell me stories of all the things she had done and the friends she had made. Though we live two thousand miles apart, the letters reminded us of our bestie-hood and made the distance seem infinitely shorter.

In the letters I kept, I had counted at least 55 times that Margot had written some form of “I love you.” She would always decorate these notes with colorful pens and write on the back of the envelope, “Sealed with a kiss,” and amend it by saying, “and the sticky envelope glue.”

Her letters highlighted all the things I had learned from Margot that summer and the seven years of our friendship before:

1.  Be adventurous, daring, and independent.

2.  Don’t take yourself too seriously.

3.  Listen to music, all the time.

4.  Most importantly, love with all your heart, and when in doubt, make raspberry sorbet—it makes everything better.

***

We’re so super excited to finally share the final ‘A Tale of Two Besties’ book cover with all of you—we hope you love it as much as we do! ‘A Tale of Two Besties’ comes out May 12, 2015. Pre-order it here!

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