Girlfriends

When I was in elementary school, I had a best friend named Jane. Jane was an only child with an active imagination. I spent many weekends at Jane’s creaky old house, sleeping late in her giant four-poster bed with the worn chenille bedspread, playing jacks on the wood floor while trying to avoid splinters, and seeking out special hiding places in her oak tree-shaded back yard. We pretended to be witches; served elaborate lunches (saltines and cheese slices) to our imaginary friends; read Nancy Drew books, and practiced our future “married lady” signatures: Mrs. Bobby Sherman was mine.

All of this provided the perfect counterpoint to my apartment-dwelling, youngest-of-three-siblings (read: often ignored) existence. Also, I was shy. But in Jane’s world — and mine by extension — I experienced a freedom and joy that only best friends can know.

When we were in fourth grade, Jane’s father took a job in another state, and, except for one weekend visit later that same year, I never saw her again. We exchanged letters for a while, but by the time junior high school rolled around, each of us had begun our own confusing journey into adolescence, and our connection was forever lost.

Over the ensuing years, I made new friends. School friends, work friends, couples friends, play group friends, PTA and Little League friends, neighborhood friends, and so on. While I am grateful for all of them, many of those relationships have long since ended too. In fact, only a special few have stood the test of time.

My “girls” (and you know who you are) are more than my friends. They are my sisters, my confidantes, my therapists, advisers, coaches, and often my biggest fans. They have seen me at my best and worst. Their honesty (sometimes brutal), humor, and empathy come without conditions. And, much as I love my family with every breath of my being, I would be lost without my girls. In fact, should that ever happen, I know I can count on them to help me find my way back home.

Sesame Noodles:
This recipe is always a crowd-pleaser, with girlfriends, family, you name it. I’ve served it many times, always to rave reviews. An added bonus: There are lots of ways to veggie this dish up, so be creative! (adapted from http://www.allrecipes.com).

Ingredients:
1 lb. pasta (linguine or spaghetti are best)
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 T. sugar
6 T. safflower oil
6 T. rice vinegar
6 T. soy sauce
2 T. sesame oil
2 T. chili sauce
6 green onions, chopped
1 t. sesame seeds (white or black), toasted
Add-ins options: sliced red pepper, snow peas, Julienned carrots, stir-fried broccoli crowns

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil and add pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl.

Meanwhile, place a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in garlic, sugar, oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili sauce. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Pour sauce over pasta, and toss to coat. Add vegetables, if using, and garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.

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