July 16-19 2022
I can’t exactly remember when I first met Tirian. For me, she was always there, like water, earth, and sky. I suspect it was in Montessori school in Ashland in the very early 70’s, learning the words and how to eat cattails and Tiger Lilies, and T’s Mom Esther was part of the therapy group my father belonged to, and so somehow I came to Tirian as I came to know my parents, my stuffed animals, and the water, earth and sky.
We had what my father called “Kid Watchers” because he didn’t like the term “babysitter” as we were not babies and found ourselves together in an idyllic if troubled childhood in the hot, brown summers of Ashland, Oregon. I know we waded in Lithia Creek and went to the Mermaid Rocks with the Montessori folks, later kidwatchers, and finally the YMCA. I know we knew the dance of the water strider spider over the creek as well as we knew the taste of our own arms, which we used to practice kissing.
I know Tirian was there for the death and funeral of “Big Greenie,” a giant grasshopper we trapped in a jar with some grass (not what he needed, apparently). I know Tirian put in hours in Tree Tree, the giant yew outside our house on Vista Street that transformed into a magic treehouse, spaceship, and, oddly enough, an airplane so we could play stewardess. I know Tirian was there in her lovely Victorian house on 3rd street where her mother Esther made me runny eggs and we did terrible things to Mop Top the Guinea Pig, like putting him into the Adobe Doll House Esther built. I know Tirian was there as I grew to womanhood, making fun of the sex ed class in school, calling our periods “God’s Light” and suffering with cramps, Esther bringing me pads when I was too embarrassed to tell my father I needed them.
Tirian was there in my awkward and terrible adolescence, when I wrote her obsessively out from school, mired in LA, suffering from post-concussion syndrome or malingering. That is the era, I think, of “Beast Friend.” Tirian, while an admirable friend and worthwhile companion in creek damming exercises and listening to me read aloud, was never the best speller, so she once sent me a card saying “Love, Tirian, Your Beast Friend.” In my perhaps smart-ass assholery and perhaps just appreciation of a good malapropism, I adopted it. But while I have had many friends, and hope to make more, I will never have another Beast Friend, which is why I was so happy to see her recently.
I took the train from Union Station to San Luis Obispo, and Tirian picked me up for a weekend in Cambria. I know that sounds like old people, but I know the wild ways of that coast. I wish I had a picture of her as she greeted me…It was the loveliest sight I have seen in years. And then we were off to the races, off for hikes, and sunsets, and hotels, and gardens, and shopping. Tirian is such a lovely person that she brought me and entire new wardrobe!
And, of course, there were the stuffed animals (T=quite a fan of Squishy).
Sometimes you can have an entire summer in just one weekend, and that is what this was. We didn’t manage to play Tom and Huck and dam a creek, but we did have a wonderful time. I am so thankful for my Beast Friend, who is not and has never been a beast. If you have a friend like this you have lost touch with, reach out—Tirian is one of those people I continually lost and then she found me, and oh, boy, is she worth it.
Thank you forever, beast friend–Love, Jenny