A Stranger in a Strange Land – Cynthia Carr Gardner recounts the beginning of her decades-long friendship with Mary Beth Evans

Written By: Cynthia C. Gardner

I was on a mission to find a new home for our family because of a job opportunity for my husband. I longed to duplicate the sea, the house, the friends, the life of the east Coast I so cherished, and I wasn’t finding it in the three days i had just spent in Los Angeles.

I had one lovely friend that side of the Mississippi who offered to lift my spirits with a dinner invitation with some friends. We pulled up to a beautiful house, brimming with character and warmth, and i was further heartened that I could find kindred spirits in this new world. The door opened and chaos ensued…a small boy flew across the entry, a wildly distressed baby wailed in the next room and a spectacular face glowed in the midst of it all. i’d met my new best friend, Mary Beth.

From that moment on, Pasadena would be our home. I was engulfed by Mary Beth and her coterie of friends, who would make our family a natural extension of their long friendships.

Mary Beth was also my first personal styling “client” (I foisted myself upon her!) We must have eliminated a lifetime supply of Dynasty-like suits that swamped my elegant and diminutive friend, but oh, the power of the camera and how they made her look the part of the sexy diva. Gently but firmly, I “encouraged” her to part with this stuff so that some worthy Beverly hills real-estate agent could enjoy her windfall and truly look the part. I like to think that I launched her on a new sartorial path that day (she has fabulous style!).

Conversely, I look to my dear friend and her vast, natural instincts when it comes to all things beautiful, homey, and cozy. she has lived in four homes since first we met and all have radiated a beauty and comfort that can only be achieved with a love of cultivating a home, not a house. Our east Coast home is full of pieces which she has instinctively sent, knowing that there would be a place in this tiny house for the perfect throw, frame, dish…I am a spare decorator and the few gems that grace our home speak to me daily of a friend whom I adore and lives a continent away.