Finally [ 2004-07-27, 5:53 p.m. ]

I met Pastry first. I had just started my job with the Big Retail Brand, and on my first day, I was told I�d be sharing an office temporarily with Pastry. She was away on vacation that week, but at my new desk was a note, in the neatest, tidiest writing I had ever seen, welcoming me to the office. I have since received many, many notes with Pastry�s eerily perfect writing, but that was the first. When we met, Pastry and I both sported hideously short hair, documented in one existing photo (that we know of), which we�ve promised must never, EVER see the light of day again. We were friendly with each from the beginning, then I somehow convinced her to move to Brooklyn when she broke up with her boyfriend and wanted OUT of the New Jersey apartment they were sharing. On September 11, I made sure Pastry stuck by my side, as we made our way uptown to find Kent at his office, to BritGirl�s apartment on the East Side while we tried to figure out how to get home, on the subway home when the F Train started running again, to her apartment where her ex-boyfriend was waiting for her. Later that night, I met her on the corner of Court Street and Baltic Street, she was still crying, Kent and I were both a mess, and we brought her back with us. She and I slept in the bed together that night while Kent watched MTV videos, unable to sleep. Less than a month later, Pastry was introduced to Trey. In June of this year, he proposed to her.

BritGirl was next. I met her at work as well, about six months after meeting Pastry. BritGirl was recently married and new to the United States. She had the office next to me, but seemed so quiet and shy that our friendship was slower to develop. She and Pastry had spent time together, but I was wrapped up in my relationship with Kent (we had just moved in together) and a lot of my free time was monopolized by my Toxic Friend. But as a result of promotions and limited office space, BritGirl and I ended up sharing an office for almost a year. During that year I learned that a quiet British accent most certainly does NOT mean that one is sweet and shy. She and I became close, commiserating over work together and actually leaving the Big Retail Brand on the same day. She and her husband flew to California for my wedding, and her presence there was beyond comforting. She and I are bonded by our [hopefully endearing] Bridget-ness, and she is the first person I can talk to about visible backfat, wardrobe mistakes and skincare problems. Oh, and I also recruited her and her husband to Brooklyn. I now have the pleasure of bumping into BritGirl frequently in the neighborhood as we are running our respective errands. Which frequently involve getting chocolate croissants and/or cheese.

Beck is another former co-worker, and still works for the Big Retail Brand. When I was still working there, I didn�t have as much interaction with her, as our Evil and Bizarre Boss Lady kept Beck in seclusion as her personal assistant. She had moved to New York from San Francisco, which already made me like her, and her boyfriend (now husband) was a very fun stoner law student, which I also liked. Beck lives in Park Slope, so she fit right in to my All Brooklyn, All The Time philosophy, and we hung out on occasion with other friends, and I always admired her abilities to accessorize an outfit, and to get up really fucking early to go running in the mornings. We�ve become much, much closer in the last year, and she is the one friend I can really relate to: we are both hyper-uptight spazzes with husbands in school, always freaking out about something and wanting more shoes. Beck is the groovy one.

Em was introduced to me through Pastry. They had met volunteering together, which is something Em does a lot of. She is going to save the world one of these days, I�m sure of it. I met Em and heard Pastry talk about her several times, them Em and her boyfriend (also now husband) moved to Washington D.C. for two years. They moved back to New York last summer and bought an apartment in Park Slope (because Brooklyn RULZ). I had invited a few friends over for a brunch last August, including Pastry. She and Em stopped by to visit me at work one day before the brunch, and I suggested Em come too. Pastry ended up getting sick, but Em showed up with a lovely tart in her hand, and we promptly began sharing wedding photos and stories, and the rest is, well�history. Em is the most outgoing, open friend I�ve ever had, and I immediately felt as if I had known her for a million years.

After coming over for brunch, Em invited me to dinner so I could see her new apartment and her wedding pictures (a new bride � even one married over a year � will never, EVER turn down an opportunity to show those photos!). When I got to her apartment, Pastry and Beck were both there, and we drank and drank and DRANK and ate and drank, and then Em�s husband came home and fixed us martinis. Look at zis grrreat book I got! Em slurred, showing us a cookbook about a cooking club of five friends in Manhattan. Oh, esss agood book, we agreed, we shoul �ave a club too! Yessss, yesss, we all squealed and sloshed. A Cooking Club, with lots of wine!

So I took the initiative and sent an email around once we were all sober and accounted for. Pastry was in, BritGirl was in, Beck was in, Em was in. I hosted the first Cooking Club at my apartment last September, and we�ve met every month since then. The four women in my Cooking Club are my heart and soul. I love them, I appreciate them, I need them. I belong with them, here. And now, we all get to stand next to Pastry as she vows herself to Trey next April. Beck and Em are Matrons of Honor, BritGirl and I are bridesmaids.

Pastry asked BritGirl and me to be her bridesmaids on Saturday night. I had invited them and their husbands/fianc�s over for dinner, and BritGirl and I jumped up and down in the kitchen and shrieked with joy when Pastry asked us. I served dinner, six adults sitting down at a table with great food and lots of wine, and I realized how far I have come. In every possible sense of the words, I am far, far away from where I started. Far away, in such a wonderful place.

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