The EPE: A Story of Friendship

The EPE: A Story of Friendship

There are life moments that contain a certain weight, pinnacle moments on which our structures are strung and shaped. These moments can be deliriously high or traumatically low, but most are somewhere in the middle, somewhat everyday, but also sparkling. In our family, these moments have a label: EPE.

This term was coined by my daughter, Claire, at age nine, when she got her ears pierced. Her closest friend, Maya, who’d already had her ears pierced, was there in the Piercing Pagoda to hold Claire’s hand and remind her to take a deep breath and not cry, and to celebrate afterwards with an Orange Julius. That afternoon of voluntary cosmetic pain was just one of many meaningful moments Claire and Maya had shared since meeting each other at age one. But it was at the Piercing Pagoda that they actually defined the EPE – Ear Piercing Event – as a way to label subsequent life markers. In the seven years since, the statement “It’s an EPE – I/Maya have/has to be there” has needed no further explanation.

The girls’ friendship started as a by-product of my friendship with Maya’s mother, Angela. We first chatted as we waited for our boys to exit preschool, laughing as we shadowed our cheerfully toddling girls as they tripped over newly walking feet. From that moment on we made plans often to get the kids together to play, to walk and run on the trails around our town, and then so much more. 

When the girls were wrapping up their own preschool years and moving on to separate kindergartens, my husband asked if I thought I would stay friends with Angela.  I turned to him, momentarily panicked.  “I think so. I hope so…of course, why wouldn’t we?” It was a question I hadn’t even considered. And I hadn’t really needed to.  Now, fifteen years later, Angela and I have had many EPEs too, labeled or not.  And it’s just a lucky side benefit or byproduct, or maybe some of each, that our girls are still so close, too.

Their most recent EPE was just a few weeks ago when Claire went to the DMV to get her driver’s permit on her sixteenth birthday. Claire was prepared and excited but nervous. The girls chattered away, picking apart memories of EPEs past and confirming that of course Claire would accompany Maya when she was ready to get her own permit.

In temperament Claire and Maya are vastly different, but they share enough similar interests, and a deep connection and trust from having known each other as far back as their memories stretch.  As their lives have followed different paths – separate high schools, more dance for Claire, more theater and music for Maya, new friendships and involvements – they’ve stayed close and supportive in a way I think is pretty unique.  Now no longer thrown together by proximity or circumstance, theirs is a bond made possible by choice and effort as well as true affection.

I hope in the deepest way that they continue to make that choice and effort, continue to support each other, always finding time to connect no matter where their life paths lead. Because there are so many EPEs yet to come.



About our Blogger:

Elizabeth Dougherty is a freelance writer in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  Her blog, Plan Q, chronicles real, everyday experiences and viewpoints — funny, stressful, tearful, mundane — and how they all tie together to define our lives. She aims to make her readers laugh, cry, feel, think, and wonder.  That’s what writing and reading do for her, and if she can pass on any of that, then all the twists and turns that whip her right past Plans A through P and land her at Plan Q are more than worth it! Visit Plan Q at or connect with her on Facebook.

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