Thursday, March 12, 2009

Katesabuns: a Tribute

33 Years ago today marked the birth of my bestie, Mary Kathryn Orender, or as her momma has called her since birth, Katesabuns.

I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let's face it, friends make life a lot more fun.
~ Chuck Swindoll

Ten years ago while working for the Christian sports camp known as Kanakuk (or Kanakult, if you choose) several people mentioned to me that I looked a lot like another girl who worked there named Katy Orender. (Except they pronounced her name "O-render" instead of the correct o-REN-der, like surrender.) I didn't know her then but ended up meeting her several months later as I was driving to a new camp we were both working at together. The first time I met Katy I sized her up quickly. She had been waiting for a friend and I for about an hour as we were running late and she was sitting in her 4Runner, quietly painting her nails. I thought, "she looks pissed, and very serious." Katy didn't talk a ton during our first few interactions and I believed her to be perhaps a little aloof.

Sometimes I'm really bad at judging people.

Like so many Kanakuk friendships, I don't remember exactly how we became close so quick. I do know that I had a hard time understanding her because she mumbled terribly and talked very quickly. I later came to learn that she spoke "Orendernese", a language derived from #5 Stonebriar Way in Frisco where one's speech is slurred and crammed together, leaving listeners second guessing as to the message. Her brother, Patrick, spoke very fluent Orendernese. After one lengthy conversation in which I had been nodding periodically and murmuring "ummhmmm" over and over Katy asked, "you haven't understood what I've been saying, have you?" I was honest in my reply and she went into a peal of laughter and explained that she was really bad at enunciating. Thus, my first lesson in speaking Orendernese. (By the way, neither Orender parent has this language issue, though Mr. Bill does speak Interrruptese.)

I pretty much knew Katy was a kindred spirit when we took some time off together, driving through the Ozark mountains with the sunroof open, the Indigo Girls blasting, singing our hearts out and talking about the different books we'd read and loved. She was one of the easiest friends I had ever made.

Within 6 months I had moved to Dallas to live with Katy and her family to work for North Dallas K-Life, a youth ministry funded entirely by local families. I quickly learned about one of Katy's greatest qualities which she no doubt inherited from her family: generosity. The Orenders, all 6 of them, each show immense generosity to all they interact with...but I don't just mean financially (though they did take me to Maui 3 times!). Katy is so generous in spirit. She pours out her time for people she loves. She LISTENS. I can't recall how many times I blathered on and on about myself while she sat, eyes fixed, just listening. Katy is thoughtful. I had to learn to wait for her to begin talking. I would ask her a question and her face would go blank while she was preparing to reply.

"Katy...what is it? What's wrong?! Are you mad at me? I can't read your face!"
"No. I was just thinking about how to reply."

For 3 years we lived together and it was some of the most hilarious times of my life. We were SO VERY SINGLE while on K-Life staff. Often the only interaction we would have during a week was with teenagers and Katy's parents, Mr. Bill and Carol. One time, Mr. Bill handed Katy a wad of bills. "Why don't you guys go out and do something?" Hint taken. We had been lurking around home all weekend due to the exhaustion of youth ministry. We cracked up - it reminded us of that scene in 16 Candles when the kid's parents push him through the doors of the dance and he's left yelling, "But I wanna be with you guys!"

Everyone, even good friends, confused us. Wendy is infamous for calling me "Katy" or Katy "Becky". People were always asking if we were sisters. K-Life kids joked that we were twins.

We shared the same interests in everything: from the music we listened to, the books we read, the places we wanted to travel. It was during this time that we both got into running. I've run two marathons (Disney and San Diego, seen above) with Katy and she finished before me both times. We did finish simultaneously at a half marathon, though. But Katy is an incredible athlete. She's one of those girls who can play any sport and don't be fooled by her sweetness, the girl will CUT YOU, even during a game of Scrabble because she is also intensely competitive.

Katy has made me laugh to the point of tears streaming down my face more times than I can recount. I would share details but it just wouldn't make sense to anyone else. We have a million inside jokes and most of them are either movie lines, Becky-isms, or innocent things that Katy has said that end up sounding very X-rated. We were once asked by an employer to "please tone down your friendship because you are making other people feel left out." Man, that stung! We attempted it for a few days but then realized that we disagreed. We've never been exclusive, often including other friends, bringing people into the circle. But to avoid those inside jokes, that's just truly difficult!

The one who has endured this the most is Russ. When Russ and Katy immediately got along, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. In fact, in many, many ways Katy prepared me to marry Russ. He speaks a certain dialect of English known as Page-ese where mumbling and quickly spoken words tend to confuse the listener. Not me. I joined the family speaking Page-ese fluently due to my years with the Orenders. Also, Katy and Russ are both middle children. I'm careful to remember that they are both caretakers who long for people to focus on them.

Though this post is already incredibly long, I could go on ad nauseum. But I will instead post my Top 10 Memories with Katy, most of which only she will understand:

10. Late nights in front of our bathroom mirror, inventing "Gam Gam" and "Ramona" in the hopes that the kids would think it was somehow half as funny as we did.
9. "Strawberry Shortcake? I think I'll have to try that!"
8. Curled up in bed that late winter night, both of us finishing the final book of Lord of the Rings at the same time and crying all over the place as we said goodbye to Frodo. Good grief, we're dorks.
7. Driving down the Dallas Tollway on a very terrible Valentine's Day weeping as we sang our hearts out to "I am Rosemary's Granddaughter" and lamented our singlehood.
6. Watching "My Life" and sending you to your room because you were sobbing so loudly that the rest of us didn't feel we had any room to cry.
5. Skinny dipping in the K-Extreme pool after the most exhausting Changeover Day. Take THAT, Kanakuk!
4. New Year's Eve 2001 when we spent the night sledding behind the golf cart with Andrew, Chris and Erin, videoing the entire debacle.
3. San Franscisco Nightmare MASHER and sitting on the beach in Carmel, writing in our journals.
2. Grand Wailea Hotel in Maui...all those warm, sunny memories, sights and smells.
1. Can't choose between you being my maid of honor or the namesake of my daughter, Kathryn Davy.

Kates, thank you for being my best friend, my sister, my confidant, my support, and for showing me the love of Christ more times than I ever deserved. I can't wait to see what God will do in your life - but you're already famous to me! Your family is my family and my family is yours.

Happy birthday to you!


Kay said...

What a wonderful tribute! To know Katy is to love her.

curveball said...

I still have the video of #4! What a great night.

Katy said...

I am speechless. I am sitting here in my bed with my computer on my lap (and freshly polished nails) tearing up and laughing hard all at the same time. You and I have the same favorite memories of each other. "Bestie" doesn't even begin to describe your importance to me. You are my sister. You are part of my family. They've accepted it and welcomed you with open arms.

Beckles, your words truly honor me and I am in awe with how much you love me. You've changed my life. God knew I needed you. Rarely does anyone have a friendship so powerful, so influential, so beautiful, so hilarious, so real and honest as ours. It is one of life's greatest gifts.

God bless Russ! I am so thankful that you have a husband who knows how important I am to you and you are to me. He's become my family too.

Kathryn Davy. You hold such a special place in my heart. Aunt Katy loves you!

Thank you, Becky. It is a Happy Birthday indeed!

Mike and Jess said...

What a sweet tribute to your bestie! What a beautiful friendship! Happy Birthday, Katy!!

Carol Orender said...

I laughed til I cried. And then I just cried. How blessed we are to have you love Katy as we do...and surely you know how much we love you, Becky. As our own. Thank you for the beautiful tribute to your friendship and to Katy. She IS special, isn't she.
It's way past time for us to visit w/you, Davy and Russ again. We'll be back after next weeks spring break. I'll call.
The Orender's love you!
Mama 2

life with the wisners said...

here here sweet katyo.

is it a cop out to say "ditto?"

it is, isn't it?

you truly are a wonderful person, and i pray you feel like the richest woman in the world today.

Chrys and Mike said...

this made me cry!

Eddo said...

Yo. That was a loooooong tribute, sweet, but loooooong. Now where's my tribute? You know I like the focus to be on ME.

dianeroutson said...

This brought tears to my eyes. Becky and Katy, you are both so fortunate to have found each other and to have such a beautiful friendship. Thank you, Becky, for sharing these wonderful memories of you and Katy (who, by the way, when I first met her, I thought she was you because I hadn't seen you in a long, long time). So you're right, you two are sisters through and through.

The Mitchells said...

I'm crying and none of this even has to do with me at all!