I have a very very good friend- I say best friend, accepting all the childhood connotations without the childhood fluctuations. For the past ten years, give or take, we have been building on this friendship, and I am often quite amazed at it. We met my freshman year, for all of thirty seconds, when she was singing at a retreat for Campus Crusade for Christ, and I went up to tell her how beautifully she sang. She thanked me rather curtly, and seemed very distracted, so I assumed I was telling her something she already knew very well, thank you, and there were other things to think of. The funny thing is I wasn't really bothered- I had no hard feelings about it.
This girl was, whenever I saw her over the next year, so self-contained. She seemed to be so calm, so detached. She always dressed well, looked put together, presented a very tidy front. It felt like she was smooth-faced, nothing to grab hold of. These kinds of people always fascinated me.
I had a friend in high school who felt similar to this- quiet, seemingly assured, never gave too much away. I always felt calmer in their presence, since I felt like a roiling ball of static electricity and chaotic emotions. I felt like I swung wildly from one extreme to the other, and though I could be comfortable swinging unchecked, I would have loved to have been tidy.
A year after we first met, we were roommates. She had the single attached to the double I shared with another friend- one who was much more my kind of messy and odd. It took us a few months to really talk. I will never forget the bus ride we took together from the dorms to campus. She said something that immediately hooked my attention. "People think I'm a bitch, but I'm really not." I remember that. If you asked me what came before or after, I can't recall. But I remember that. I nodded, even though I hadn't seen much other than the smooth face she presented- I agreed, because I had known and been great friends with girls who were the very same.
We were so different, and found each other intriguing because of it. And beneath our differences, we found this common nature, and all our differences had sprung from different reactions to the same feelings and experiences. My fascination with the fringes of society came from feeling so not normal- and her tidy front came from the same. She wanted to blend in, and I thought I never could.
We became very close, as close as two girls still learning themselves could be, and things happened, life changed course, and we were not so close in contact. We suffered separate woes during the same period of time, and when we started to talk again, we had been...mmm...shall we say battle hardened? More familiar with the ugly things of life. Like two men in a bar will eye each other and know that they are soldiers.
She was not nearly as tidy. And I had had my frayed ends burnt off some. And we were still the counter swing of the same pendulum. It was amazingly wonderful work, to get close again, to climb over all the stupid stuff that got between us before, and to get right down close. God blessed me with a friend who wanted to be understood as much as I did, who understood the desire, and who, like me, wanted to grow, even when it hurt.
Over the past year, through all the difficulties, I knew that while my life seemed to be shaking on rocky terrain, I could call my friend, who still presents a wonderfully calm face to the world. She is loving and wise, and I value her conversation and understanding and all her hurts and worries more than she knows, because she's like me, and we're very good at self-deprecation. I am finally beginning to understand that I can mean that much to someone so wonderful.
The thing is, all of this will still apply, because she's just moving down the coast. It's just that she'll be far. We always met for coffee for hours, at least four hours of talking and coffee. We worked out hard life stuff, face to face, and now I'm gonna have to get good at the phone. She better get a land line because this cell phone static is totally killing me.
I am so getting skype.