Wednesday, February 12, 2014

For Claire

Dear John,
 
I had fun today. I had an appointment this morning with Sonya, then I walked down to the Electric Brew for soup and chai. Did I tell you that they moved? They're around the corner in the place the used bookstore used to be. It has more space, which they needed, but otherwise it's the same, which is good. Then I went across the street to the yarn shop, picked up some lovely yarn at 40% off, and got my fix of color and fiber for a while.
 
I called Mayre Lou after I got home to check up on her, since Atlanta is getting hit with a snow-&-ice storm. I ended up talking to Claire for over three hours and having a lovely time. She's the only friend I have who knew me when we were children, and one of the few people that I can say absolutely anything to. I believe we've known each other for over fifty years. That sounds outrageous - I can't be old enough to have known anybody for over fifty years. But it's true. And I cherish that friendship more than I can say.
 
Our mothers were best friends and we did lots of things together as families. Our childhoods were a kind of backwards - in so many ways, she was what my parents wanted and I was what her parents wanted. Neither of us knew that at the time, of course. All we knew was that the other one was held up as the example of what we should be. We discovered our common plight one summer day a few years ago, when I was traveling through Atlanta and staying with them overnight, and Claire and I were cleaning up a trash pile the former owners had left in the back yard. That was an adventure in itself - we discovered some amazing stuff in there. And we sat up and talked well into the wee hours of the morning.
 
Claire and I always had each other's backs. Our mothers would get together and weep about what disasters we had turned out to be - you know, she became a truck driver and I married a Yankee. Then they'd talk to us about each other and we'd stand up for each other to our collective parents, which, no doubt resulted in yet more weeping. But I think we both came out rather well. And this is now a two-generation friendship that has lasted over half a century.
 
And we had each other's backs because we were both doing the same thing: We were being ourselves, no matter what our parents thought about it. We went our own ways and did what was right for us. We've both always been that magic combination that you loved - independent, strong-minded, smart-mouthed women. It was just coincidence that I looked like what Mayre Lou wanted and Claire looked like what Mama wanted. We were really the same thing. Swapping us out wouldn't have prevented any of the weeping.
 
You always loved watching Claire and me together. You saw through both of us and knew that our differences were not even skin-deep. You never understood why our mothers couldn't see that we were the same. Surface things never distracted you - you had a way of seeing what was significant in people. You knew in a minute how much alike we are. And you knew a lifelong friendship when you saw it. I believe you had as much fun as we did when we were together - you so enjoyed watching us.
 
Well, that's really all I have to say tonight, just that I'm grateful for an old friendship and for your enjoyment of it. Did you have just as much fun as I did today, listening in on our conversation? I know that our three-hour conversation made you happy. And it made me happy, too.
 
Sleep good tonight, and thank you for being so wise,
Joan.


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