Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gayla Gayla!

I KNOW THIS IS A DAY EARLY! But - I want to make sure she is FULLY CELEBRATED!

Happy Birthday, Friend! I always LOVED how you celebrated yourself - not in a selfish or egotistical way at all... in a way that was probably so much more healthy than you had any idea it was - and regardless of what was going on inside your heart, you were such a lover of life and joy and what was good. You were one of my very favorite roommates, ever. How blessed I was to get to have that special time with you in my life.

Gayla and I met in college - at some RA event. (I think?) That doesn't actually seem right, but it's the first picture of her in my head. I have NO IDEA how we decided to become roommates. I was living with a family, at the time, and I couldn't even tell you where she was living. We both went to Open Bible, and were teaching elementary school. Me in Sapulpa, Gayla in the North Side. Anderson Elementary. And I remember how she got her job. She started calling schools... she is just great, like that.

When I think of Gayla and our time together, I just have to smile. We were ridiculous. In all the best ways. In the ways most people only dream of, we lived. We laughed, we cried, we mocked... we watched the Tick. We went to DC Talk WITH Backstage passes... I know, you ARE jealous. How I wish I had a picture of the DC Talk shrine - coupled with the Art Monk life size cut out that we decorated with Christmas lights and a scarf, during the Holiday season.

We're not sure what we ate. We remember buying a ten pound bad of runts. I remember spaghetti. I remember making enchiladas. We also liked pretzels, frosted mini-wheat cereal, and otter pops... I seriously don't remember much else.

We went on a mission trip together to Thailand. In 1994. (That's her in the front dressed as a Hindu - in hindsight, that was probably a decent costume to wear -light and airy). She spent the first month in Atlanta, and then came on over, and THEN the fun began. Can you imagine being with one of your very closest friends in Thailand for a month? It was REALLY, REALLY grand.

We cleaned up real well. And had probably two outfits, that were appropriate for public viewing.

There was the time that Mandy had to go to the bathroom AFTER they got on the bus. Now, Gayla had already TOLD them to go, because EVERY bus ride in Bangkok was a minimum of two hours. Well, Mandy was a teen-ager, and had to go. So, Gayla had all the boys move up to the front of the bus (did I neglect to mention that this was public transport...?) And the some of the costumes for this particular drama had a cape-like part, so she had the girls circle around Mandy, and hold the capes up, and all I know is, it's a good thing Mandy's water bottle had a large opening to drink from. Next stop, it went into the trash and all was well...

Then there was the Village trip and the dooky... And seriously, only GAYLA can be so angry that she can talk about a dooky with high school boys and not have ONE of them start laughing. It actually motivated one group to go into the bathroom and cut it up into flushable pieces. Hey - third world country - ya gotta do what ya gotta do...

Exploring Bangkok together on our "free days" was fun. And fortunately we LIKED or co-leaders - Chris Abeyta and Anthony Kirlew.

This was inside one of the temples.

You KNOW she was dying to touch one of these monks, right? Would've destroyed their karma for MONTHS...

We loved the Hard Rock Cafe there - after two months in a foreign country - a little bit of America goes a LONG way. We probably WEREN'T (?) supposed to be up there... we were just pretending anyway...

On one Free Day in Bangkok, we decided to take the whole county (the teams we had with us) to Siam Park - it was this really big, really great (our standards may have been a bit low - Third World Country and all - I think you start forgetting what would NORMALLY be acceptable, and just start saying - "Sure, jump off that - safety belts are highly overrated, anyways).

Well, one of our contacts, Tum (pronounced TDoom), was so much fun, and he decided to be the photographer for the day for us. Which was fine by us. The other leader was a gal named Elaine, whom I also liked and was also fun, but it's not her birthday.

Oh! There he is! We were actually sleeping, and never knew about this picture until we got the book he made for us.

This is perhaps one of my favorite pictures ever. It was there at the Park. It's just kinda "us". I love it. Even though we are make-up-less and everything.

We did "relationship" skits during one of our Sunday morning Worship/Church services. Our desire was to encourage our teens to not get caught up in high school dating drama, which could so derail their lives and dreams for the future. As happened here, when Gayla came back from college to marry her high school sweetheart, who really just wanted to watch the "Championship Game" and have her bring him his "beer and his chicken pot pie"...

We went camping with Matt Cooperrider, Jeff Portman, Dennis Leach (aka House Boy), and Krista Portman. I WISH I knew where it was - we were just along for the ride. It was so much fun. We just parked and hiked up into some area where there were no lights, no bathrooms... and of course, we wake up to Jeff making breakfast.

Again, Gayla, what DID we eat? And Gayla was asking me a while ago if we ever cleaned? We don't remember. But, we had people over, so it must have been somewhat clean, as both of us have mothers who ingrained cleanliness into us. AND Marina walked straight into our storm door one time when we were having a party. No, she was not drunk. We never even had alcohol in our place.

But. We did engage in criminal activity. We would break into the boys' house, next door, to watch the Godfather. They had this HUGE projector thing - and we could just climb through the bedroom window and watch it.

We once watched all three Godfather movies in a row. "Fredo, he's no good for the family."

We called Dennis House Boy, because he lived at our house for awhile. We fixed him a pallet under the stairs (inside) and he would sleep there. He had a place to live, but I think that place had ferrets. We didn't. He was very useful for climbing on chairs and putting lights up.

And we had this really fun "Seventies Murder Mystery" Party. Who are we kidding? We just wanted an excuse to dress up funky and invite some friends over. I think the murder mystery game was really lame - if we even finished it. Gayla KEPT that fake piece of white paper cigarette around for WEEKS - she put lipstick on the end, and would walk around the house, pretending it was real... just for effect....

Back from Indonesia and me back from Europe. Dear Friend, I love you and cherish my memories of you. Happy Birthday.


  1. what a fantastic post! love, love, love the photos!

  2. So wonderful to have a lifelong bond with your friend Gayla...and what a pretty and fitting name!

    I enjoyed going with you "back down memory lane."

    Makes me want to sit here and reflect on my best friends. :)

    Happy Birthday Gayla!

  3. Gayla is totally worth THIS post, and innumerable others! Thank you Sohailah for paying tribute to this Beauty! Happy Birthday Gayla!


    PS. My birthday is August 13th, giving me plenty of time to start collecting photos for you to photo-shop yourself into!

  4. OH MY GOSH!!! Were my thighs EVER REALLY that thin??? And if so, why wasn't I walking around the world in A BIKINI every single day of my life??? ;-)

    Sohailah... you are so great! Those were golden years, for sure. Too bad you don't have any pix of us dressed up in bridesmaid dresses wandering around our apartment complex!!! ;-)

    What a fantastic walk down memory lane. But is it bad that I honestly have NO memory of camping w/ Jeff and Krista and Den??? No really- I cannot remember doing that.

    Love you lots. THANK YOU for this post. I can't tell you how honored I feel. I enjoyed reading it so very much... It's my favorite birthday present of all!!!!!!!!!!

  5. THIS WAS SOOOOOOO FUNNY!!!! OMG what if the 3 of us ever got together at the same time. THAT would be scary!!!

    I do not remember you two going to Indonesia together. How weird is that? I do remember the idea of our children bringing us a beer and a chicken pot pie. HAHAH

    I adore the 70s look and feel compelled to do that this weekend for halloween now that I've seen the photos. Halloween gets a lower case "h" because I still hate halloween, even if i do dress up.

  6. You have such great friends because you are a great friend!

  7. Well, I am certainly blessed. Gayla, that's so funny that you don't remember the camping. I remember we woke up and Jeff had tortillas cooking on a v shaped stick over the fire and some amazing concoction of queso and sausage... I have a bunch of other pictures from that place, but I have never been able to find out where we were. It was so pretty I'd love to go back, but I've asked Matt and he looks at me like I'm crazy...

    So glad you liked the post.

    Karen - it would be frightfully funny. Gayla went to teach in Indonesia in 95 (?), and that was a picture from when she was just back. I SHOULD have gone, and frankly, it's one regret I have. However, then I probably wouldn't have become a tour guide, which is something I love and am grateful for.

  8. So love this post Sohailah! What precious memories, and what a precious friendship! You both are so very special! I LOVED the pics!!!!!

  9. Gayla definitely deserves this post! I love the pictures, ladies! It's totally how I remember meeting you girls back in the's so fun that you two have such great adventures and memories to share.

    Happy Birthday, Gayla!

  10. P.S. Did she let the cigarette hang out of the corner of her mouth while she talked and carried on routine house work? Well, that's how I pictured it, anyway :)

  11. Heck yes, Adrienne. That's exactly what she'd do. Or we'd go knock on the boy's door, and she'd be leaning up against the side, cigarette dangling...