Life is better with friends

Santa Barbara Harbor

“All right mates! Let’s go.” Rob, an Aussie, called out to us when we parked in front of an apartment complex in Santa Barbara.

We jumped into his car without unloading ours. Off we went to the harbor where he said his wife Debbie was waiting for us on their sailboat.

That’s the first time I met the couple who would become our close friends. It was “BK” before kids — and around 35 years ago. My husband and Rob met on the East Coast training with a large brokerage firm. They had hit it off and decided we all needed to get together once they returned to California.

On the boat, Rob shouted orders like “Skirt the jib!” “Ready about!” or “Trim the main.”

My husband and I were expected to jump in and help, but we didn’t now what to do. Debbie showed us “the ropes” and how to respond to each command.

Years before, I had taken sailing at the University of Washington in college with my brother. We were in a small sailboat and I remember getting hit in the head by the boom. My earrings popped out and a clump of hair ripped out of my head onto the boom as we “came about.” I had a small amount of experience — which was more than my husband had.

We soon learned that this was not a leisurely sail. We found ourself in a Santa Barbara Yacht Club race!

That weekend was the beginning of years of friendship. In the early years, we visited them and stayed in their apartment because they were too busy to visit us. Rob left the brokerage business and they opened a savory Aussie pie shop that sold hand-held pies about the size of hamburgers.

My favorite pies were scallop and cheese, spinach and feta — and best of all — Shepherd’s pie. The pie shop was the first of several entrepreneurial businesses.

I remember one afternoon driving to a beach for a picnic. We got stuck in traffic that wasn’t moving. They pulled off the road and set up a picnic on a red and white checkered tablecloth with smoked oysters, tomatoes, cheese, crackers, and a bottle of “cab sav” in a field dotted with cows in the far off distance.

Time spent with Rob and Debbie is always an adventure. I can’t wait to see them in August on our vacation.

My husband and me on our friends’ sailboat decades after meeting them.

Rob at the tiller with Debbie.

Fred and Honey, our friends’ Galahs. Rob had to give up his Australian citizenship to bring them to the U.S.

How did you meet your close friends from decades ago? Do you stay in touch today?

42 thoughts on “Life is better with friends

  1. You had me with the title, Elizabeth! Loved this story of your friendship and sailing adventures. But they had to give up citizenship in order to bring their birds? How interesting!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed my story of our wonderful friends. Galahs are native wild birds in Australia. I’m thinking people would capture and sell them overseas and endanger the species if there were no fines or if it wasn’t against the law.

  2. That is interesting about the birds-reminds me of the snakes people try to bring in as pets. The best friends I have had were met by chance. I met Madonna, a good friend to me in the UAE while shopping. She was the only other American in the little store. By chance seems to be the best type of friends, unplanned. I have never done well with making friends by being introduced to them.

    • Yes, the birds are similar to people bringing in snakes, but prettier. That’s nice you met by chance with your friend in the UAE. I think my husband and Rob met by chance, being in the same training class across the country together. I’m surprised I hit it off with the wife, because I’m like you with introductions, but she’s been one of my best friends.

    • It is a great friendship. I used to stay with them for a getaway while I was working, before we could afford “real vacations.” They lived with us temporarily, when they were in the middle of a move to the Chicago area 25 years ago. Then when my oldest went to university in Santa Barbara, I felt so comforted knowing they were nearby.

  3. Love stories about the priceless gift of friendships. Fun times. I met my bestie in 5th grade and she married her husband a year after my husband and I married. My husband met his close friend in childhood too and they got married just a couple years after us. Doing things with these couples is always fun and usually involves a lot of laughter. 😊

    • It is a good friendship. They’ve introduced us to their close friends in Santa Barbara over the years and it feels like old home week when we visit. I wonder if there’s anything we’d have to give up citizenship for if we moved out of the US?

      • That’s a great question! Personally, I don’t know if I’d give up citizenship for a pet. Kind of crazy!

      • That’s something to think about! I believe Rob wanted to leave Australia to become a US citizen. Debbie was always a US citizen and they spent the first years of their marriage in Australia.

  4. Lovely story of long friendship with just the perfect people- except for the “coming about” moment when younger. Yikes!

    • I wasn’t too excited about sailing after my UW experience! We don’t enjoy sailing as much as we used to, either. I will go in August, but after my knee surgery, I didn’t feel comfortable for several years to move quickly enough when we were “coming about!” Thanks for the nice words about our friendship.

  5. “Skirt the jib!” I’d be so nervous — but look at you – you became a sailor! Such fun to have long-time friends…and so exciting that you get to spend time with them soon. Loved the pics! 🥰

  6. My closest friends are from college. My husbands too. Then we have work friends. And friends that were parents of my daughters friends

    • Yes, my best friend is from college, too. Your list is similar to ours on where we met our friends. My husband’s best friend introduced us 40 years ago and moved to Arizona six years ago. Then he introduced us to AZ but died from Valley Fever our first year here. So sad! My husband felt so lost here without his friend. We have a couple one mile from us who were parents of our kids’ friends, so that helps.

  7. Life IS better with friends! Sounds like a wild “get-to-know-you” sailing adventure. Giving up citizenship for birds is la twist. Work seems to be implicated in many long-time friendships.

  8. Pingback: Do You Like My Writing Or Are We Just Friends? - Wise & Shine

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