This week I thank someone who has been there for me since I was 18....and she's still here, cheering me on.
I met Claudette my freshman year of college. I'd signed up as interested to write for the campus newspaper. I can still hear this woman calmly proclaim, "Hello, my name is Claudette and I'm the Editor for the newspaper. I hear you're interested in writing. Could you be available for a staff meeting next week?"
I agreed, yet hung up the phone with reservations. I loved to write, was even fairly good at it, but I was shy. One of the reasons I loved writing was because I could sit with one person at a time, listening to discover who they were, then return to the safety of my room to explain that person to the rest of the world. For me writing was like breathing...dealing with more than one person, not so much. Besides, I envisioned this confident sounding Claudette woman as some 5'8" blonde with a killer body and a trail of men following behind, tongues on the ground. I knew I could do the job, if only the brain in my short body wouldn't get derailed by her sophistication and beauty.
I walked into that meeting the next week, mumbling to myself that I was worthy. A dark headed woman with an ear to ear smile stuck out her hand and said, "Hi, I'm Claudie! Welcome!" I was so accustom to looking up at people when speaking, it took me a moment to realize we were literally seeing eye to eye. We later agreed it was Friendship at first site.
Claudie was a military brat, accustom to traveling while I was the hometown girl use to seeing her military friends move away every four years. We were like Ying and Yang: she was brave and adventurous, I was shy and the voice of "reason", occasionally questioning the wisdom of the proposed adventure.
Although separated geographically, we've been there for each other through school, marriage, job changes and her two pregnancies. I considered her fearless and myself cautious. We have the kind of friendship that when she shared at her baby shower that impending motherhood, "scared her shitless", my abrupt reply of, "Good!", made both of us laugh. I'll never forget the first time she visited with her firstborn. I opened the door, she smiled and said, "Here," as she handed me her son. I sat and held him for the next hour as she shared her adventures in motherhood.
Claudie was the person I called when selling my first article; she insisted I frame the acceptance letter, which I still have somewhere. She is the living embodiment of, "A friend truly knows who you are...and loves you anyway." We can go for months without talking or e-mailing, then one of us will pop up with, "I just couldn't get you off my mind today...what's up?" to which the other would say, "I was just thinking about you!" To this day, one of my favorite tug on the heartstrings moments was when she looked at me and said, "I wish we'd met when we were little kids, so we could've grown up together."
Well, my friend, we are growing up together. And when we get around to rocking chairs as a form of transportation, we'll sit together on the porch and reminisce about the day we got even with the male staff members. The day we got tired of trying to have a staff meeting while they gawked out the window at girls in short shorts walking across campus in the Spring sunshine. The importance of learning that us making the same comments as males walked across campus not only got the male staff's attention, it got us scolded for being sexist. And you laughed. Loudly.
As the picture shows, we are linked on a level where we find humor when others don't get the joke. I don't remember what was said, but I still remember looking at you before laughing out loud. Thank you for the laughter...and for being always being there when it matters most.