Today I went up to the elementary school and I was running stairs, and then I was running around the track. All of the sudden, I felt out of breath…like I was having an asthma attack or something. I wasn’t sure what was going on, because I have never felt this way when I am pushing my poor heart rate to the limit. So I slowed down to a walk, and all of the sudden the sobs came as the sun was shining hot on my face. Choking, gasping sobs…and tears.
I’ve never had this happen to me. But I think I know why.
And so now I am writing.
This post is for a friend. I will just selfishly say that this is for me and her. But realistically I know that I am inviting everyone who may happen across this post along for the ride. And again, selfishly, I will say that this post is for me, because often in life so many things go unsaid. Because sometimes it is easier and less painful that way. But sometimes you just have to say what you cannot look the person in the face and get out of your mouth…and it feels so much safer to write it down, where the keyboard feels safe and I can give my thoughts a pause when I need to.
My friend is moving soon. She actually moves a week from today. She has been in my life now for at least fifteen years. She was once a roommate. She was once the person that drank beer at Bar X with me on a Wednesday night. She was once the person that sat on our front porch and shared her menthol cigarettes with me at nine o’clock in the morning. Neither of us smoke anymore, nor do we go to Bar X on a Wednesday night. If they still had peanuts and a pool table, maybe we would.
Her name is Amy.
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Amy is not the most touchy-feely huggy kind of person. So my purpose in writing this blog post to and about her is my way of wrapping my big, crazy, contradiction of a self around her…to smother her with the weight of my thoughts and feelings and my special kind of messed-up love…to show, without a hug, and with words that I can’t bear to say in person, how much our past means to me and how instrumental she has been in my life.
She is kind of like the friend that feels like a sister. Perhaps I found the qualities in this girlfriend that are just so very different than the ones in the real sister that I have. Because we are alternately playful and easy…and then we will bicker and disagree or become mute with irritation or perhaps disappointment. I say this not in an overly sentimental way…I mean, you know when sometimes you have a sister and the two of you are very close in age…and the both of you have this crazy kind of connection where you adore the sister and then sometimes want to steal her clothes and get a big stain on them and pretend it wasn’t you? I kind of think this is me and Amy. Because she is like that sister who you admire and look up to and are sometimes a little envious of, and then at other times your stubborn self says HELL NO, I WILL NOT DO IT THE SAME WAY AS YOU, EVEN IF IT WORKS!! Just because you can. And because you feel some strange need to make this declaration.
Oh my god. That explains nothing.
Men will never get this, because it’s not often that they allow themselves this sort of friendship. Women are crazy and confusing and emotional, but friendship is very important to us.
I will say that Amy and I have been through a lot. A lot of growing. We started out as kids and then eventually became women and mothers and oh so aware of what life throws at you. I can honestly say that I know the curve of Amy’s chin and the sound of her laugh…and if you put a lineup of fifty pictures of people’s hands, I could pick out Amy’s hands within ten seconds. I know her crazy, fun family and the fact that her dad stands really close to you when he talks and that he loves meditating, and the fact that her mother is so generous and loving but not overly emotional…and her little sister is wacky and unpredictable and oh so awesome in her own special way…and Amy loves them all and I do, too. I have to mention this because it is not very often that you get to know the family of your friends. Really. It means a lot and it is special to me. When a family lets you in, even just a little bit, you are forever changed. They are a part of you.
I will not even go into the subject of Amy’s husband, Neil. I do want to say to you, Amy, that we love him very fiercely and are so happy that the two of you have each other. Times aren’t always easy, and they aren’t always fun. And it helps in life to have someone who feels fiercely about you as well, and I think you have found that. Neil is so dear to me and I’m sure I have never told him this. Many times I find myself feeling grateful just for the fact that Neil is Neil…because he unlike any other. And he cracks me up. Who else would have willingly watched multiple episodes of Trading Spaces with me while he was still single?? Who else would lead a shirtless dance party on the deck and demonstrate some kick-ass robot moves??
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Amy allowed me to witness the birth of her firstborn. When she saw that boy for the first time, I will never forget her saying, “Ohhhh…he’s really cute!!” And he still is. Amy, you have placed a huge importance on mothering and I just need to tell you that watching you with your boys is grand. You love them more than anything, and they love you. Being a mother changed you, as it should change all of us. Your firstborn is growing up so fast. I’m just glad nowadays that when he sees me he doesn’t exclaim, “NOT NICE!!”…and hopefully he thinks I’m not too bad. He is beautiful, inside and out.
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You were there for the birth of both my kids. The first one being very intense, and you were very quiet…snapping away and taking photos just like I asked you to. Thank you for not getting any pictures of my vagina. Seriously. Because you saw that sucker rip open after pushing for two and a half hours with no drugs. And then you saw my second baby, the epidural baby, practically fall out of my vagina and you almost couldn’t get your camera turned on in time. What a difference. Almost laughable. I want to tell you now – thank you for being a calm presence during my birthing experiences. You had no expectations, and you were supportive in your own way. Birth is so fucking cool. Oh my god…it’s crazy we will never have any more little babies coming out of our bodies. Sometimes that makes me sad.
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I have to tell you now that I wish I could have been there for your second baby, Amy. I know that his birth was a little out of control, messy, painful, crazy, and not pretty. But isn’t that a metaphor for life? And out of all the messiness often comes something beautiful. I loved being pregnant at the same time with a good friend. I loved making our husbands go out to eat at the Sizzler steak house. And it has been so nice to see our children become friends. Your second boy is really, really awesome.
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I guess I will start to wrap this whole thing up by saying some hopeful things. Like, I hope that you and your family find great success and happiness back East. And I hope that we always remain a presence in each other’s lives. And that I hope you all are always healthy and joyful and thankful for the great things that happen to you. And that I hope we can always be honest with each other and pick up easily where we left off, and not hold back, and not worry about sharing the truth.
I also want you to know that even if I don’t get daily details or even if I don’t talk to you for weeks on end, if you called and said to me, “please come”, I would collect the quarters from Beatty’s piggy bank to pay the babysitter and I would rack up my charge card to buy an immediate plane ticket out to you. The Leo loyalty in me runs deep. And although I know there is a 90% chance that you would never actually ask, because that is just you… you need to know that there is 100% chance that if you did, I would come.
Because when it comes to time or space, what matters is not necessarily right now. It is what has happened in the past and what we’ve learned from it, and then putting this to use as we guide ourselves into the future. In my mind, it doesn’t matter what distance we create – whether it is physical or emotional – it can all be overcome. And it will all turn out alright.
We will all be alright.
You will be missed.
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