on the record

I spend Saturday afternoon organizing my closet, pulling winter clothes for donation and boxing up summer stuff. Kerry texts to confirm dinner plans for that night: am I down for Mexican? I am always down for Mexican. She invites me to meet them at her place but for once I flip the invitation. You guys are welcome here for a change. I have liquor.

My place it is.

There's much to catch up on over drinks; they've been house hunting in San Francisco since I saw them last. Though her transfer date hasn't been determined, it's definite: Kerrbear and Ross - Kross, as we dubbed them for texting shorthand purposes - are leaving LA. I have all the sads in the world about it, every last motherfucking one, and have since she told me the news about a month ago - but I am very, very happy for her. A promotion less than a year after joining the company, and a move to SF, where she and Ross ultimately wanted to end up anyway. They pass their phone across the kitchen island to me: pics of the Nob Hill stunner they've got their eye on. I ooh and ahh appreciatively and feel weirdly proud to count such a successful, ambitious couple as my friends.

It's just me until Terence joins us later, but there's no sense of being a third wheel with Kross. There never has been. We talk about real estate, about work, about music and movies, about mutual friends. They gamely play with Chaucer when he shoves toys in their laps, and as we get cozily tipsy, I take a mental snapshot of the moment. Grateful for my friends, grateful for their laughter and easy conversation, grateful to realize I've enjoyed 3+ years of it. Knowing I'll see them again, even after they move, knowing the jokes about their second bedroom being our guest room aren't bullshit.

I remember the boots, and dash off to my closet to get them. Maison Martin Margiela, acrylic faux wood grain high heels, mahogany leather so sumptuous my neighborhood shoe repair guy marveled at them admiringly before asking where they were from. (I got them online, I admit. Crazy discount, but final sale. I couldn't return them. They're my size, but too tight. My broken left foot can't deal. Please say you can stretch them? He tried his best.) Kerry's a half size smaller than me and I'm hoping they'll fit her. I'm also hoping she'll be blown away. Not for gratitude's sake, but because she would never in a million years splurge on something like these for herself. I could sell them, but the thought of her wearing them makes me way happier than the relatively little I could recoup on eBay. Kerry is a hard-working, career-focused, badass professional woman in her early forties who just landed a promotion and a transfer to one of the coolest cities in the world. She deserves a pair of luxe designer boots. She's fucking earned them.

They're snug, but she's game to break them in on the hills of San Francisco. Yes! The smile on my face watching her model them in the full length mirror has very little to do with my Pimm's Cup. I don't say out loud that they're my goodbye gift. I don't want to talk about her leaving at all. But privately I feel pleased as punch to be able to do something special, to commemorate this milestone in my friend's life.

We take an Über to Silver Lake for dinner.  Margaritas straight up, ice on the side. Terence arrives halfway through dinner and walks up to applause from Kross (he's just finished a show) and a burrito steaming on his plate. We catch him up quickly, eat slowly, and linger over second margaritas. When I return from a trip to the bathroom I am met with wagging fingers and tsk tsk's from Kross. "I'm going to kick your ass right now," Kerry declares. I frown. What'd I do? "You didn't vote??" she asks, exasperated but smiling. Ross shakes his head at me, also smiling. I am so busted.

I shoot Terence (who voted) a look. "Of all people, you told them??" Kross doesn't fuck around when it comes to politics. Which is what we discuss next, Kerry admitting to not having known much about some of the initiatives on the ballet - "But at least I made it!" (She barely had time to get to the polls after a day of work and a stressful doctor's appointment.) I pledge to my friends to never again lapse on my civic duty and change the subject, tangentially, to John Oliver.

Later, more drinks back at our place. We are officially drunk. I want to play darts, so after I let Chaucer out for a quick potty we head downstairs to Casey's. But the patio is too smoky, so we get a table inside instead. I'm still clutching the high ball full of arrows I've traded my ID for when we decide to duck around the corner and check out the live music. Female duo, Fleetwood Mac cover. Perfect: Kerry's an 80's music freak. The four of us stand and watch and sing, and I take another mental snapshot. Then an actual one, of Terence and Ross. I plead with Kerry to take one with me, but no dice. (There is rarely dice on that table. Kerry loathes having her photo taken.) Terence leans in and cups my ear so I'll hear him over the music. "Baby, do you want to go play darts? That's why we came, I know you wanted to." Nope. I'm good right here, happy that Kerry's happy, cheerfully wasted and enjoying music she likes. There'll be plenty of time for darts when she's gone.

Terence hears the subtext of my response, the not-so-deeply buried heartbreak and disappointment I have been suppressing since I got the news that my best girlfriend in Los Angeles is moving away. That I'm saying goodbye to another friend. That I'm losing another friend to San Francisco. (Fucking San Francisco loves to steal my friends.) My boyfriend reads my expression and understands that I'm hurting even while I'm happy, and he cups my ear again. "You should have heard what she said about you, when you were walking Chauc." I shake my head, but don't pull away completely. I let him tell me. And it's hard to fight back the tears when he does - but I do. I'm a little shocked by what he tells me, because even though I know Kerry cares about me, she's not an overly demonstrative or sentimental person, and I've learned to feel her affection through actions, not words. So the words I hear repeated to me, about me, blow me away in the best possible way. I feel relieved and validated to learn that she thinks of me as I think of her. That she doesn't find me to be the frivolous, foolish person I'd always sort of assumed she did.

Where's Ellie? Is she gone? she'd said.

Yeah, she took Chaucer down.

Okay well I just want to officially say, on the record, that she is the most amazing woman I know. Like, seriously. 

That sounds like some Ellie and Kerry type stuff that you should probably tell her yourself. 

But it's okay that she didn't tell me herself. It's so totally okay. I shrug off the compliment when Terence relays the exchange, but secretly it hits me right in the stomach, like a swallow of something warm and wonderful. It was the liquor talking, I know that. It was hyperbole and exaggeration, but even if all that's true is a tiny seed of it, now I know I am genuinely loved and respected by someone I love and respect. And knowing that makes it a little easier to say goodbye.

---

Later we walk them home with Chaucer, whom I pass off to Ross so I can lag behind with Kerr. Four friends, sobering up, semi-stumbling across downtown Los Angeles. Two men, two women, a Mastiff, and a box of boots. Snapshots mental and real. Grateful, happy, sad.

---

Later still, Terence and I are sitting on the steps of the Aon building, eating Haagen Dasz bars from Famima. Closing time, the sidewalk filling up with stragglers much drunker than the two of us. A group of dudes is taking selfies against the tower behind us. Terence cracks jokes about the scene and I throw my head back, laughing loudly. As the group descends the stairs to head off into the night, one of them pauses. He's clearly been drinking but he looks squarely at us, pointing a finger, and says in a respectful, friendly tone: "You two look extremely happy."

Had I been more sober, I know I would have responded more enthusiastically, thanking him sincerely for saying something so sweet. But as it was, his pronouncement felt like the cherry on top of a night so simply awesome that I couldn't do anything other than nod matter-of-factly as I licked my ice cream.

"We are," I assured him. And I hoped it didn't sound smug, because it was all I felt capable of saying, on a Saturday night worth writing about, the first chance I got - a Saturday night I don't want to forget.