A friend has a part of your heart and history. Someone you can’t imagine not talking to and laughing with as often as humanly possible. Who doesn’t complain “You’re never home” but rather exclaims, “It’s been way too long; man, I’ve missed you!”
Today I sat down and made the time to call my God-friend. This little 4’10” friend of mine is pure Louisiana Jambalaya girl. I first saw her standing in the Misawa Inn with her five little kids. I had an instantaneous, odd thought: “I’m going to be friends with her.” I walked past with a smile. We’d both just arrived on base in Japan. Jet lag. No one was up to talking.
The next time I remember running into her she was opening a huge box outside the post office and pulling out her children’s winter coats. It was September. It was mighty cold. Household goods take forever to arrive via ship from America. We were shipped over in August. Our goods — October. We had left Oklahoma City where September will still be hot. September in northern Japan is not so hot. Our sandal-ed feet were chilly.
I remarked, “How smart! I didn’t even know you could *do* that! Mail stuff to yourself, that is.” She straightened up (my favorite joke on her: Stand up when you talk to grown-folks, girl!”) and said, “Oh sure. They’ll even pay for it.” Thus began our friendship. It wasn’t exactly smooth. Octavia is a pastor’s wife and she was beat down, life-weary due to circumstances prior to arriving in Japan. Not only that, but as a pastor’s wife, she is beset by women who just want her shoulder on which to lean. Exhausting really, for a homeschooling mom of five.
I called her and invited her over. She canceled the first time. She was cautious. Tired sounding. I called again. When she sounded as if she were going to cancel the second time, I interrupted with: “Octavia. I know you’re tired. I know that friends always want something out of you. I don’t. I have no problems that require counseling. Let’s just talk. I’m remarkably whole,” smiling all the while.
And we understood each other. Now truly we both did have normal life issues to complain to each other about but that wasn’t therapy, that was friendship. Together we became addicted to Marché’s corn soup and crêpe cake. We had lattes at the Mokuteki late at night. We’re both total hounds for shopping in Hawaii. (get me off this rock with its one grocery and BX.)
It’s been too long since I’ve spoken with her. Today when I called we were immediately back in the rhythm of “You are the funniest person I know. I love spending time with you.” It seems we both were having the [redacted] from hell at the same time last year and getting drug over the coals by a rank amateur. How two grown women can laugh so hard over:
She used strip wax. STRIP WAX, did you hear me?!? If that boy wants that done again, he can drive me to Virginia Beach.
We both agreed it was worth a 14 hour drive to our known Australian aesthetician rather than risk unspecified harm at the hands of unknown overpaid sadists.
She told me she loved my new house. That I’d done the entirely wrong thing to change the colors in the dining room and kitchen and I should watch more HGTV. That she will use her frequent flier miles to arrive and help me paint that house right and unpack it. All I have to do is drive her to Chicago for Pappadeaux’s.
I told her I was going to visit family alone down South. She paused. “Are you there? Are you sick? Girl. Are you pregnant?” She knows. She’d go with me if I asked her to come.
We confided that we were done with school for the year. No one knows it but we no longer care about the children’s education this semester. She wants to sell houses. I want to go to law school. We agree that the kids could probably learn to school themselves.
I don’t remember the last time a day felt this right.