If I could sum up the lessons learned in the shitstorm that’s been the last 2 1/2 years, the one that rises to the top of the list is about friends; who is one, who isn’t one, who I want to be friends with, who I don’t, and, most importantly, how to be a better friend.
I’ve come through this time with the most incredible family imaginable. Some people I didn’t know before, some I did, some friendships have been total surprises and some have developed with people that I’ve always wanted to be friends with but for various reasons (usually related to the men in my life) I’ve never pursued.
This is about one of those people.
A hundred years ago, I had my back operated on. The surgeon has a policy that even on the day of the surgery, (and every day after) you WILL get out and walk a mile.
Hobbling my way around the Loop, as I was walking down the main drag, almost home, I heard a voice, “Hey! Where are you headed all crippled up and shit?”
And there she was, sitting on the front porch of her orange house, cocktail in hand, watching the world go by and running commentary from her perch.
We’ve had memorable moments together, including one that involved Mardi Gras beads, tequilla, a couple of persnickety gay men, and no underwear – but…that’s a story that I will save for another day.
As an aside here, spell-check is telling me that it doesn’t know what the word “tequilla” is. Really??
Any way, she’s a person who shows up. And show up she did these last few years and thank god she did or I would have missed out on including her as one of my favorite people in the world.
She’s smart and kind and caring and funny. as. fuck. She’s an absolute angel. And, has no filter for her wry, sarcastic, wit. What she thinks is what comes out of her mouth and it’s usually worth hearing.
She plays a role in this community that many would find too upsetting, distasteful, or stressful. She’s the person you want by your side when the shit gets really serious.
Last night she mooned me with her scrawny little ass right in her front yard.
And I found out yesterday that she is not well. I ran straight to her house and sat in with her tribe of women – all totally, utterly, amazing – while talking about next steps, what-if’s, and holy shits.
I looked around the room and saw these women who I have known since I moved here 24 years ago – women who I don’t see often, women who have varying roles in this community, women of substance.
I thought, I am so fortunate to have been here long enough to know these people and it is so cool that there is still this core group, folks who aren’t involved with the young hips that live here now, folks that leaned on each other back in the day when houses here cost $38,000.
And here we were, gathered together with our person, we middle-aged gals, who have been through enough in our own lives to know the importance of showing up.
I’m on the young end of these ladies, but I proudly sport the old-lady hat.
I made a couple of phone calls to let more distant friends know what’s happening. One man (he and his husband are honorary crones) I haven’t spoken to in years and what a treat to catch up with him even under the current circumstances.
And what a blessing to have yet another person/people with whom it doesn’t matter that we haven’t spoken in so long.
We were all younger and naive-er together. We have watched each other age, mature, grieve, become parents and grandparents, supported each other when parents or spouses have died.
And at the moment, my friend is at the heart of this tribe.
I am so honored to be included, so blessed to be her friend.