We met in 1961, in February as I recall. The glamorous, dark-haired young woman from Sorel and her beautiful blonde sister arrived at our sedate high school and nothing was ever the same again. My best friend then and now.

We are so different, but so much similar.

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Scorpio and Libra. Hub and Jess share the same birthday, which was a tremendously good omen.

Sure, she wore the dull grey pleated uniform and ugly maroon blazer that we had, but my God, I can still remember her style and confidence.She was one of the few people I know who could stare down the nuns.

Her hair secured in that saucy French roll looked sexy instead of demure. Pale pink lipstick. Snapping dark eyes and a wicked grin. She had on low black boots and – horrors – no stockings. My, how I laugh when I remember how shocked my mother was when she first met Jess. For years, Mom told me how I’d suffer from ‘female troubles’ if I didn’t wear heavy tights and bloomers on my lady-parts from November to April.

When I moved into my little house in Innisfil, the first thing I ever owned myself, she was there. Still grieving my mother’s death the year before. I’d had to make so many decisions on my own, for the first time in my life. I was terrified but never alone, because she was part of my life. My kids and family knew that.

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I remember when she stepped out of her little green car, we hugged and danced around the driveway like two crazy women. We were sure my neighbours thought we were two old lesbian lovers reuniting, we were so exuberant. And that was before we started drinking wine and catching up.

I can’t think how my life would have been without her. She’s taught me to be strong and outspoken and to take thoughtful risks. I’ve transplanted the rose bush she brought as a housewarming gift in the spring of 1999. The rabbits chewed at it this year and it won’t bloom, but that beautiful Jessie rose, like my best friend, is a constant, surviving deep freezes, summer droughts and hungry hares.

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We’ve been thin and we’ve been round. We’ve shared so many joys and heartaches. More good than bad, though. It’s the laughter and shared memories that have helped keep us going through the awful times. As we approach three score and ten this year, I rejoice that we have endured for so long.

Tomorrow, she and her husband are coming to spend time with Hub and I. Diets be damned. We’ll be our 16-year-old selves for a while – jumping around, talking fast and loud, laughing our heads off, shedding a few tears – and it will seem like no time at all has passed since last we saw each other.

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That time, we were in a hotel in Montreal and the people in the room next door called security about all the noise we were making. This time, our husbands will glance at each other, shake their heads and silently wonder at how two women can be so…whatever it is we are with each other. And we’ll shrug and say with our eyes, “Live with it, Boys. We are who we are and we’ve been this way long before you came into our lives.”

My grandson and I repainted the guest room last week. The house is clean. The martini shaker is ready for action.

I am so excited.