That friend was a constant in my life, for three blessed years. All others who swarmed around us were acquaintances, there for a while, but gone while we remained, joined at the hip. Her star was brilliant, and the largest company in the country snapped her up before we even finished school, with a starting salary I’ve only just managed to top after 9 years of work. We had to be separated.
It was not as hard as expected. Life is funny that way. It moves on. The phone calls get longer in between, and they don’t last hours as they used to. Soon, we’re reduced to the occasional text or email. Pretty soon, a year has passed by, and there is no communication whatsoever. But still, the sound of her name puts a smile on my face. The memories: the good, the bad and the downright hideous (okay, make that naughty), they wash over like a warm blanket, and it’s like I’m home.
Slowly, we start gravitating towards each other again. The color yellow is everywhere; it is her favorite color. The music in the background, a sassy, drum-driven, essentially latino bachata, her flavor. A pack of Milports, that crappy mentholated cigarette that we adored back then. But who is that in the corner, just out of my sight?
Someone new is in the picture. He is tall, handsome, dark, athletic, with a blindingly white smile that says “no smoking”. He has a deep gravelly voice that rumbles out her last name in a way that is so intimately teasing, I almost blush to hear him say it. It’s like I’ve caught them in bed, or casually strolled in one door and out the other (much like she’s done to me before). There is an easy grace about him, and he actually looks at you directly when speaking, and he is intelligent. Be still my heart. Could this be?
Here is someone I could not have chosen myself if I gave myself a lifetime. Here is someone she found all on her own. Someone who, on his own, has built himself a character that respects and appreciates my friend. My friend, who after so many years, welcomes me into her life like I just went out for a pack of those mentholated cigarettes. He cooks a meal for us. (Score!) He teases her about her Champagne dreams and beer money (I think I like him just a little bit more). I’m going through an unbelievably gut-wrenching moment in life, he leaves us to talk, and then does the dishes while I try to get myself stinking drunk (Double score!!). Then, despite my warnings that I snore, he makes space in the only bedroom, and I have my friend for myself as I cry myself to sleep. When the inevitable happens, this man, a teacher (Triple score!!), who has to be up at an ungodly hour to catch a bus, who has only met me once before, is up and driving us to where we need to go. My friend, my sister, my partner in crime, sees my agony, and we both stand in the hospital room, shivering with cold, and fear, and sadness, as the machines flat-line. He drives us both around as we sit in shock, and the truth finally sinks in.
He gives us space as we sit up for hours, smoking and drinking like there is no tomorrow, and the next day he has breakfast ready for us before he leaves for work.
A fascinating specimen he certainly is. It is my sincerest wish that she marry him. Immediately. Right there, before me, as we stand around her unfurnished apartment eating scrambled eggs and toast. Instead, she waits nearly two years. But when she says those magical words, my heart sings. A peace settles over me. If one good thing came out of our crazy lives together, my sister is with the person she should be, and their daughter is a testament to that indelible bond. A bond I like to think I saw long before she did. (She would deny that…but that’s what sisters are for.)
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