Friday, October 10, 2014

Staying With Bekah

Yesterday I left my sister's charming home and family and came back to Notre Dame to spend a few more days with my son before I went home. Now, at Notre Dame, women are not permitted to spend the night in men's dorms, not even if they are someone's mother. I'm not saying I would have stayed in my son's dorm--that would have been awkward, especially for his roommate--but I am saying that I can't. Several weeks ago my husband realized with something approaching horror that he'd never reserved a hotel room for me for this weekend. On Football Weekends the hotels around here fill fast for exorbitant sums: we were going to be shelling out well over a thousand dollars for my stay.

"I know," I said, "I'll stay with Bekah."

My husband said I couldn't just invite myself to stay with someone. I said I could, because it was Bekah. And I did, and I am, and it's all very good.

Bekah is my friend now that we are all in our forties, but back when I first knew her she was my dear friend Sarah's baby sister. There are three Randall girls, Sarah, Lizzie, and Bekah. Sarah and Lizzie are only two years apart, and I fit squarely in the middle of them. I was Sarah's friend first, but not for long. Bekah was nine years old, a pig-tailed string-bean child who did no-handed cartwheels down the middle of the road when we all walked to Atz's for ice cream. She was funny and quirky and brilliant, just like her sisters, but she was in third grade and we were in high school.

I felt as at home at Sarah's house as I did at my own. We would stay up half the night talking, then bake a carrot cake at three am, then spend part of the next morning struggling to stay awake in the front pew while Sarah's dad said Mass. Sarah and Lizzie shared a bedroom; more than once I fell asleep amidst the pile of books on Lizzie's bed; when Lizzie came in, in the dark, she pulled back the covers, said, "Oh, sorry, Kim," and went to sleep with Bekah.

When Sarah, Lizzie, and I were in college, Bekah moved with Sarah's parents to San Diego. She went to high school there. I saw her at Sarah's graduation from Yale, and at Lizzie's wedding a few years later, and then not again until Sarah's ordination weekend over twenty years later. It didn't matter. I knew Bekah--know Bekah--the way I know my own family. And so I feel asleep comfortably on her air mattress last night, at home with one of the Randalls yet again.