Thursday, July 24, 2008
I spent last weekend with one of my dearest friends. I’ve known her since the day I turned fourteen. I was a quiet insecure girl on my first day at a new school, desperate to leave behind six miserable years at an elite private school where I was excluded for being middle class, chubby, and dreamy. At the time I met her, I had no sense of myself beyond wanting to please people and to be liked. She, on the other hand, seemed to be impossibly confident. She was extremely smart and made deservedly great grades – in ninth grade Social Studies she did a report on apartheid while everyone else did idiot reports on pop bands and food fads. She knew who she was and wasn’t afraid to be herself – she had a long mouthful of a name but wouldn’t answer to anyone who shortened it, while I was pathetically thrilled to answer to anything anyone called me. She was original and funny – once a truck crashed into the wall around her house and afterwards she orchestrated a photo shoot with the two of us posed as victims under the rubble. In short, she was everything I wasn’t and I was totally enchanted. I was a shy Ethel to her Lucy, which was fine with me. I was just happy to be with her on the show.
We’ve been friends – off and on, up and down – ever since. In the past decades, we’ve both been through some rough stuff – as anyone who’s faced life rather than running away from it has. I know it’s been a hard time for her in the past several years, and she’s been weighed down by fatigue and worry. And I know there’s nothing I can do to take away her cares. But what I didn’t say over the weekend, what I want to say now, is that when I’m with her, I still see the bright, entirely original, stubborn, enchanting girl she was that first day I met her. That she contains within her still, that girl and all the promise and potential in her, only deepened now and made more beautiful by the strength she’s gained in carrying her burdens, by the compassion she’s gained under their weight. She is still, and always will be, Lucy, the funny, rubber-faced, brilliant star in the sit com of my life. And if I’m any less the shy Ethel now, it’s because, at the beginning of my journey, she showed me the way forward.
I hope she knows that I will love her forever.