You know that friend, the one you can talk to after years and years, and it’s as if no time has passed? Yeah, that kind. They’re the absolute BEST. They make all of life’s chaos—relocations, bygone relationships, false-starts, and failures—fade away in an instant. Like someone hugging you as you are and always have been. And unconsciously you reciprocate that hug right back. So, so good.
This is Heidi’s and my story. From our wee days—when we self-entertained as our best-friend mothers chain-smoked and sunbathed to their hearts’ content—to just this very month—when serendipity found us vacationing together on Eleuthera, the scene of one of our very last serious time together (for more than a brief conversation). That was when we were 15 and 16. Crazy, right? Life seems just to have gotten in the way. Somehow, though, she never felt far away.
Might have something to do with our mothers, who had an intensely close (read: ups and downs) friendship. An incredibly dynamic duo. Truly. forces of nature. Throughout the years, we used to chuckle when they answered the phone to each other by saying simply, “Gooooood?”
Non-Rhode Islanders might think, “huh?” But for those of us from L’il Rhody, the extended and more familiar version of the local greeting goes something like…
“How ya doin’?”
Makes me nostalgic for my home state just hearing it my my head as I type it out. You see, RIers have a way of taking a one syllable word like “good” and turning it into a stretched-out, multiple-note, crescendoed masterpiece. It truly is quite a thing of beauty.
Well, the shorthand version became our mothers’ greeting.
And then it became Heidi’s and mine. While we haven’t spent a lot of time physically together over the years, we did speak on the phone every now and then as our lives took us around the country. “Gooooood?” She would say.
“Gooooood!” I would reply. And there we were. Right where we left off.
As the years went on, Facebook gave us a passive way of keeping track of each other, for better or worse. Happily one day, for reasons I don’t recall, we connected via text. Since I’m in Hawai‘i, and Heidi’s in RI, the texting thing made it possible for us to once again communicate in real time. And we’v e taken advantage! Let’s just say that my phone autocorrects “good” to “goooooood” now.
With the exchange of one (loooooong) word, the warmth of all the good emotions of the past sweep us right up. She gets me. I just know it.
Fast forward to our recent trip to Eleuthera. Since my husband and I were really piggy-backing on her trip with friends (long story stemming from her innocently texting to ask if I knew of any house rentals in the Caribbean), we were mindful of giving them space. We’d all do our thing during the day and then get together for a beverage or dinner (usually both). We’d tell tales of the day’s adventures, which for Heidi and me usually centered on walking the beautiful beach and “treasure hunting” (beach combing).
She told me about her necklace, a simple black cord, on which she hung a one single beach-combed shell that she changed now and then, reminders her travels. She said she always looks for things that are necklace ready (already have holes in them). Very cool. Just raw, imperfect beach finds that she happens upon and that bring her joy.
Since I’d had the luxury of combing the Eleuthera beach for decades, I told her about my “holy grail” finds: sea beans (aka luck beans), “lifesavers,” little plastic balls, sea biscuits, sea urchins, and sand dollars. As it turned out, the next day I discovered a perfect little lime-green ball with a hole through it from its days as some kind of fishing accessory. And while I NEVER give away my ball finds, I just knew the little guy was meant to be for Heidi and her necklace.
That evening, I declared it was our Christmas and that I had a present for her. After asking her to pick a hand, I opened it to reveal the precious little nugget. We both squealed with delight, jumping up and down. No words. We just knew what the exchange meant.
I get you, and you get me.
And so it began: the evening “Christmas” ritual of present exchange. We oooohed and awwwwwed and howled with laughter over our beach-combed gifts. Unlike the first green bead exchange when no explanation was needed, we decided it was important to tell the other person why we were giving a particular gift. This helped us stay focused on things that had meaning. Even more importantly, though, it inspired us to share our feelings verbally for one another.
I see you. I get you.
We rode the high of our daily gift-exchanges for our two weeks together, at the end of which Heidi declared that we had to invite others to join in the fun. Having been enjoying a 2.5 year hiatus from social media, I resisted but ultimately was convinced to get back up on the Insta horse. Heidi’s excitement is contagious.
We decided to start BeachThriftLove with the hopes that there were other folks out there who revel in treasure-hunting (beach), creative repurposing (thrift), and gift-giving (love) the way that we do. There are tons of beach-combers out there, and we love following their finds. What we hope catches on is the idea that hunting with gift-giving in mind helps you really think about them and enables you to show them that you see them. That you get them.
Just like Heidi and me.