#9 – Melanie

So I had a date with my friend Andrew to see a play at the University of Ottawa. This girl saw us in the lobby and essentially tagged along for the rest of the night. I didn’t mind. It’s theatre. It’s a social occasion. It’s not like we’re going to be talking during the performance. She seemed nice enough.

We were introduced. I found out she was doing the MA program at the U of O theatre department.

Huh. Bonus points in her favour.

Eventually we get to chatting and, I don’t remember the exact wording but, she said something like: “Oh, I know you. You directing that play I saw the other day. I didn’t like it at all.”

Huh. Well then.

Not one to miss an opportunity to debate with a fellow academic, we all went for beers after the play and had an amazing discussion about the play I had directed, about the form, about my directorial style and about our love of theatre. Turns out, she actually really enjoyed my direction. She just wasn’t a fan of the play itself.

Fair enough. Still, bonus points for the compliments. .

Our next major exchange occurred over makeup shopping at Sephora. And that’s all it took. Girlie stuffs and theatre… we left each other with hugs and “I love yous”.

I know good stock when I see it. Someone who challenges me, stimulates me, and makes me laugh.

That’s Mel.

And she’s got fierce rapping skills too. Don’t believe me? Check this out.

*girlcrush*

#8 – Shane

Shane with his beautiful daughter and wife.

I have a strange way of making friends.  I mean, I meet people pretty much the same way everyone else does, but I go about choosing my “keeper” friends oddly.  #8 and #9 are such people.

Do I remember exactly when I met Shane?  Nope.  I know he did community theatre with my Mom and I was involved backstage somehow.  I was quite young and don’t have the clearest memories of my community theatre days.   Once I got involved, I got heavily involved, and one production blends into another.

What I do remember clearly is that Shane was part of a group of crazy boys (men?) that I admired and loved very much.  They were (are?) smart, witty, creative, rambunctious, and fiercely loyal to each other.  They all pretty much treated me like a little sister (though I thought most of them were hawt!) and protected me.   Our families knew each other well and spent a lot of time together, but I was still the “kid” through most of it.

There was a lapse in time where Shane and I didn’t really speak or see each other.  Too long of a story to mention, but he was back in town when I turned 20 (or was it 21?  Again… a blur) and he took me out for an amazing day that resulted in drinks and getting my navel pierced.

Though we were good acquaintances up until that point, that one day of sharing, confiding, hugging, and celebrating made us brother and sister.   One day is all it took.

And it’s been that way ever since.

He lives on the other side of the world now with his beautiful family.

But he’s still my Big Bro.  Taking care of me from afar.

#7 – Amanda

I was desperate last year. Fringe time was upon me. I had three major events that I needed to attend and I didn’t have a thing to wear. What does a desperate clothes-less woman do in those circumstances (other than the obvious “go shopping”)? Turn to Twitter, that’s what!

I put out a simple call, asking if any of my followers might have something they could loan me, and that’s how I met Amanda. A woman I had never met in real life offered to come by my office and let me try on a few of her dresses. A few! Not one, but a few! And two out of the three were a perfect fit! I couldn’t believe my luck.

It turns out, Amanda is as sweet in person as she is on Twitter. And her photography… amazing.

Thank you so much Amanda for making me look good!

Fringe Gala 2011

#6 – Les Sicottes

They were my tormentors, my best friends, my classmates, and will forever be my family.

Mélanie and Mélissa (twins… can’t ya tell?) are my age, and Marc is one year younger.  My mother babysat all three of them at our home after school for too many years to count.  We were as close as cousins could get.    They teased the hell out of me when I was younger, but now I know that’s because they loved me so much.  Right?  RIGHT!?

Marc and I would play “house” in the basement (not as dirty as it sounds.)

Mom would get out her “tickle trunk” of costumes and us girls would do a fashion show.

We worked with our Uncle Michel to create detailed choreography (ahem) for live musical performances during family gatherings.  (The highlight in my mind was Bryan Adams’s Everywhere You Go the Kids Wanna Rock for Mother’s Day one year.)

We’d have sleepovers at their place and sneak out in the middle of the night to go to the school yard… a whole half a block away. (Sorry Tante Hélène.)

We’d walk around the library together, that is until one of us (hardly ever me) got a boyfriend and found a quieter hallway elsewhere.  (Only Plantagenet grads would know what I mean about the library.)

We’d share gossip and be a shoulder to cry on during the long bus rides to and from school.

They supported and comforted me through recent crazy times.

We spent so much of our childhood and teens together… and then we graduated from high school.  All three of them went on to marry amazing people and have a wackload of beautiful children.   We made new friends.  We lived in different cities.  We grew apart.

Still, I will never forget how our friendship helped shaped who I am today.  Growing up, they were the siblings I never had.  And when we do get the chance to see each other, there’s a certain soothing feeling that comes over me.

Like I’m coming home again.

#5 – Dalelle

The Glass Menagerie – University of Ottawa – 2001

Dalelle and I met the summer of ’98 at a University of Ottawa residence orientation weekend.  A year younger than me, she traveled alone from Sudbury to meet new people and get acquainted with the campus and city she’d call her home.  I journeyed 45 minutes from home, by car, with my Mom, for the occasion.  She seemed so… grown up compared to me.

She told me she was registered in the theatre department.  We found out we had a lot in common.  Both fully bilingual.  Both theatre lovers.  Both chatty as all hell.  We sat by the Rideau Canal talking about our dreams.  She was going to volunteer for everything she could and eventually get herself a job at the National Arts Centre.  She was bound and determined to make it in this town.  I admired her drive.

Long story short, she eventually went on to coordinate one of Canada’s major francophone theatre festivals for the NAC.  She’s now a Production Coordinator for the Museum of Civilization and often works for Bluesfest and the NCC.   Oh, and she’s barely 30 years old and she has two kids.

I consider Dalelle one of my best friends.  I’ve directed her in quite a few productions. She was the maid of honour at my wedding.  I babysat her first born while she delivered her second.  And yet, we only speak a handful of times a year.  We’re lucky if we see each other a few times a year.  It’s part of the curse of being very similar people, both intensely focused on family and our careers.

She always tells me I can count on her for anything… and she means it.  Just recently when I was stuck without a babysitter at the last minute, on a whim, I decided to email her.  Not only did she agree to watch the girls, but she wanted to take them for the entire day so I could relax.    She knows that I schedule babysitters for when I need to work, rarely for social/date time.   I would be more than happy to give you a “just cause I feel like doing what I wanna do day” if you would like. 

Amazing.

That’s friendship.

#4 – Kris

I miss Kris.

He’s moved to Edmonton with his beau to start a new life and stretch his actor wings out West.   His partner recently proposed.  Kris accepted.  I couldn’t be happier for them.

Kris makes me feel good.  He’s a beautiful man, inside and out.  His speaking voice make me melt.  He’s as much at home singing show tunes as he is reciting sonnets.  Passionate, driven and insanely witty, Kris’s major problems are that he is too talented and has too many possibilities ahead of him.

He is a great listening and advice-giver.  He is kinky and dirty and sweet and charming.  He is confident without being cocky.  Outspoken without being brash.

Collaborating with Kris on projects has always given me the warm fuzzies… feeling understood, challenged, stimulated and fulfilled.  (Solely in the theatrical, creative sense people!)

When we lived in the same city we didn’t see each other much, but every coffee we did have together was a treat.  Now that he lives far away, he sometimes sends me cute tweets that make my day.

I miss Kris.

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Featured image of Kris and Nadine is used with permission from the amazingly talented Kym Shumsky.  You should check out her 100 Strangers Project.  It’s lovely.  And, yes, I am biased. 

#3 – Michelle

Smart and sassy, Michelle is one of my longest friends.  We met doing community theatre and I was amazed with her positive spirit, grace, and beautiful voice.

She moved away for university and then spent what felt like forever building a career for herself, eventually starting her own ESL school in Japan.  Needless to say keeping in touch was difficult.

Her life hasn’t always been easy but she’s strong, determined, and fierce.

Sadly, she forgets how amazing she is sometime.  I take it upon myself to remind her as often as I can.

She’s recently moved back to Canada and will be (any second now) embarking on her biggest challenge yet… motherhood.  I can only imagine how excited and terrified she must be.  I know I was.  She’ll be living in Toronto once the baby’s born and, while I know that’s where her heart is leading her, I can’t help but be a bit sad that distance will come between us again.

Through ups and downs, her smile is always contagious.   Warm, creative, caring and exuberant, Michelle will be an amazing mom. Though our time in the same city has been brief, and I haven’t taken advantage of it like I should have, I plan on making sure she regularly knows how wonderful she is and how much I love her.