A postcard out of the blue arrived the other day from an old friend who was touring Greece. On the front, a photograph of ancient Greek erotica on pottery and on the back, the words she wrote: Greetings! We thought you would appreciate this card – cracked us up!
I met her husband first, when we both worked at the same hospital in the late 70’s. When Jim met Diane and he introduced me to her as his fiance, she and I fell instantly in love. Not in the sense that lovers fall in love, but in the way two women can fall in love each other’s souls. She was the tall one, I was the short one. She was the stable, fertile goddess, I was was the unattached and childless free spirit. Their house was the scene of so many wonderful gatherings of friends because that’s the kind of people they are – the kind that welcome you as a member of their family. I spent so much time in Diane’s kitchen – drinking coffee on Sunday mornings, or mixing drinks on Saturday nights – there were times I seriously wondered if they wished they could just tell me to go the hell home. On one very memorable night, Diane and I danced together with a total lack of self-consciousness and ease that I’ve rarely felt dancing with a man – her laugh ringing through the air and her wild hair tossing about. Her favorite song was “Boys of Summer” and to this day I cannot hear that song without thinking of her. They were, for me, a link to the family life I didn’t have in Texas. They were my adopted brother and sister and their 3 children became like neice & nephews to me. I was, in fact, called Aunt Karen by the children, which touched me enormously.
Our lives were entertwined for about 10 years, until we both moved our families away from Austin at about the same time in 1991 – me to Kansas City, she to upstate Washington – and our contact became sporadic, as often happens when geographical distance interferes. Monthly phone calls became yearly calls, then eventually stopped. I went through a very distressful and difficult divorce from Julian’s dad and closeted myself away from civilization for a long time. Diane sent me letters I did not answer with any regularity. One letter to her from me went missing the mail (where DOES that stuff end up?). I would email occasionally, but Diane is not a computer person so I never heard back from her. In the meantime, I felt terrible, knowing I wasn’t actually trying to put forth the effort to stay in touch and the longer it went on, the worse I felt. It got to the point where I was actually afraid if I called, she wouldn’t really want to hear from me. I missed her terribly but felt like I’d been a bad friend.
Then the postcard from Greece came last week and I made a mental committment to get in touch with her as soon as possible. Today was the 21st, their card was postmarked the 11th. Surely they were back in the states by now. Today was the day to make the phone call.
“I’m going to call Diane tonight” I said to Ken
“You should” he said
“I’m afraid. What if she hates me?”
“She doesn’t hate you. Just call.”
And I did. And it was wonderful. It was like we’d just seen each other the day before, even though it’s now been 16 years since we last laid eyes on each other. It was a phone call that I was long overdue in making, and one that, again, proves the power of true friendship. True friends love you in spite of your flaws and quirks, and forgive you your temporary lapses in attention. True friends think of you when they see that certain nasty postcard they just know you’ll love. True friendship never dies and I am thankful for that today.
Cheers, Di. I’m looking forward to dancing with you next year at your son’s wedding. Maybe they’ll play Boys of Summer, just for us.