The absolute most shining GOOD moment of this week (month?) was my Thursday when I got to spend several hours chatting a mile a minute IN PERSON with an old friend.
I don't think I can adequately express the happiness this brought me. She was recalling when we first met at my job interview at a school in Austin where she was already employed. My memories of her from that time are a woman in a mid-length skirt and a brown bob and a toddler on her hip. She taught me how to identify different oak trees by their leaves and bark, she introduced me to The Big Chill, and she helped me develop my skills at civil disobedience.
I was 24 years old in 2000 when I got that job, and I am still astonished that someone who I perceived as a real grown-up wanted to be friends with me. Now, fifteen years later, I am even more astonished because in my recollection I was so wildly naive and immature. I knew almost nothing about life. She has a memory of me throwing a banana peel at a colleague during those years. See what I mean? Immature. (For the record, I have no memory of this.)
This woman helped fertilize the seeds of environmentalism in me, planted by my parents, and eventual brought into full bloom during my years in Asheville. She inspired me to travel the world and live in another culture. She modeled for me the dangerous and necessary skill of thinking about what your boss asks you do to before you do it. And maybe, just maybe, deciding not to do it, damn the consequences.
She was more likely to encourage me not to follow her lead with straightforward communication of what she would consider her mistakes. But I could read between the lines, and I found much to admire. Several years into her own marriage, she taught me much about how challenging it can be and once said, "When you find someone you want to marry, I'll have him over for dinner, and if he's not good enough, I'll poison his food." Unflinchingly loyal.
How many recycling containers did we fill with beer bottles over those two years? I recall the peaceful feeling of splitting a six-pack of Abita Turbodog in her backyard, sitting in lawnchairs and watching her daughter exhaust herself on the trampoline while we discussed adulthood.
In so many ways, this woman taught me how to be an adult, but not an ordinary one. On Thursday I realized anew how glorious it is to have a friend to whom you can say anything, confess any wild position or preference, any silly peccadillo, and receive full support and/or understanding. There is an absolutely miniscule number of people in my life that fit this description. I think we feel this peace because we share so many thoughts and preferences, but also because neither of us has ever felt like we quite fit the mold, quite knew how to behave in polite society. But together, we can sink into relaxation.
Those two years I lived in Austin we golden years in many ways. At 24, I was just reaching my rebellious years (late developer here), and this woman, among others at our place of work, played a large role and helping me find the person I became. I thank her and love her for it.
So, that's what? Ten, Twenty, Thirty? I think I covered it.
Oh, and the gutter man just dropped by, did his job, got paid, and is gone. Check that one off the list.
A Fly on our (Chicken Coop) Wall, Amycake and the Dude, Considerings, Finding Ninee, Getting Literal, I Want Backsies, The Meaning of Me, Thankful Me, Uncharted, The Wakefield Doctrine
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