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(post, Michelle Thies)
Picture it, Long Island, September 1979. On a late summer day, two young girls meet at the bus stop on their way to the first day of school. I was five years old and about to attend my first day of kindergarten, Erin was six entering first grade. We were on our way to St. Mary's School, all decked out in plaid skirts, polyester vests and bilevel haircuts (now known as the mullet). Little did these two girls know at the time, that they would remain friends for life. We are celebrating thirty years of friendship this month and there have been a lot of ups and downs, twists and turns, highs and lows. Buy whenever we get together, there is always two things that seem to happen, we eat and have belly laughs! Erin had the distinct pleasure of being my guinea pig at an early age. I had the yearn to bake cookies one summer day around 1984. I told Erin that I knew how to do it, you just add eggs, butter, flour and sugar together and add chocolate chips. Well that sounded about right to Erin. It didn't occur to us that I was missing one little detail, the measurements. So we mixed this concoction together at Erin's house, put it in the oven and waited. "The batter" started to spread very thin and pour over the side of the cookie sheet, sticking to the heating element. I swear it was making the noise "weep-woooong" just like the episode of the Little Rascals when they make a birthday cake and throw shoes in the batter. Erin looked at and said "Are you sure you know how to make cookies?" and I responded "Of course" secretly praying that this thing in the oven didn't explode. Erin's mother walked in and yelled at Erin for making a mess on the stove and took out the cookies. I think Erin got a slap for that one too, taking one for the team. She still not over it I think. As teenagers, both coming from Catholic families, Erin and I were forced by our parents to go the "Rock N Roll" mass on Sundays that was geared toward teenagers. So we came up with a scheme were we would get dropped off, take the church's weekly bulletin and read it so we knew how to answer when asked what the sermon was about. After making sure the coast was clear, we would walk to Friendly's for ice cream. Together we would laugh smugly over Reese's Piece's sundays, surprised how we were getting away with this. This went on for a few weeks until the jig was up, Erin's mom caught us driving another of Erin's friends to church after she had dropped us off. If we are going to hell, I know our little stunt is on St. Peter's list of reasons! Later in life, after I had gone to culinary school and Erin was studying to be a teacher, I would go to her apartment and cook for her and her now husband. They had a friend who they wanted to play a joke on. They had played a game the night before where you had to guess the meaning of the word. The word was "Foggato" and to be honest, I can't remember what it means. Anyway, the next day they told me to make something with "Foggato Sauce" and see if their friend could remember the game. So I prepared a dish of Ravioli with Sage and Brown Butter Sauce, and made up this whole story how this was from Northern Italy where they cooked with butter because they share a border with France. Their friend said,"Wow-I love Foggato Sauce!" and Erin kicked me under the table and looked at me with sparkle in her blue eyes. We still laugh about it. Through the years, food has always been a part of our friendship. I have given cooking lessons to Erin showing her how to make my famous brownies and Tomato Sauce. Erin goes to all the hip restaurants and makes thoughtful recommendations. We discuss "Top Chef" and all the cooking shows. Erin will tell me about things she has made and I will invite her over for game night where food is always part of the party. Beyond food, we have witnessed so much of each other's lives. As I think back over the last 30 years, I have watched her bloom from a shy girl on the bus stop to a beautiful woman who is now an elementary school teacher. I have seen my friend endure a lot of adversity in her life, and I am so proud of how she was able to overcome it. I take pride in knowing that our bond helped her in rough times, as she certainly was there for me. I truly cherish having someone in my life that can transform me from a 35 year old woman to a 10 year old girl, just by uttering the phrase, "Remember when...". So Erin, my beautiful friend, here's to us! To 30 years of an incredible friendship! You are truly my sister! May the next 30 years be as delicious as the first!