Have you ever met someone with whom you have such a strong connection, it doesn’t matter how much time passes, you always pick up where you left off once you’re together again? I have met one such person, and what’s more, I’ve been fortunate enough to have her as my best friend for the last fifteen years, and I cannot imagine my life without her.
I went out with her tonight for some drinks, some smokes, some food, and some really good conversation. I tried a new drink–bourbon and diet coke, and now I’m kinda drunk. I’m such a lightweight. That’s neither here nor there, though.
As I looked at Kiki, I marveled at how much our relationship has changed and grown over time. I met her when I was a counselor of a day treeatment program for juvenile delinquents (“At-risk youth, Minna!” I can hear Kiki’s voice in my head. We’ve had that particular mock-argument countless times), and she was the administrative assistant. We were the two youngest people working there, but we didn’t really have much interaction at first. Then, the kids were doing a school newspaper, and one of them interviewed her. He asked her what was one thing about herself that people would be surprised to find out. She said that she had a tattoo.
A tattoo? That intrigued me. She’s pretty quiet until you get to know her, so I never pictured she’d have a tattoo. This was when I was thinking of getting one of my own, so that tidbit definitely piqued my interest. On the way to our annual holiday eating celebration thing, I walked next to her, and we started talking.
I left the agency soon after, but Kiki and I remained friends. She’s the one who went with me when I decided to get my first tattoo (at midnight. Just a word of advice, do NOT get your first tattoo done on impulse. It was a disaster. I hated it. It’s only when I got it covered up by the lotus blossom in flames on my left breast that I was happy). She’s the one I went clubbing with. She’s the one who encouraged me to hit on people I found attractive. “What do you have to lose?” She asked. “It’s not like you’ll ever see them again.” Of course, I like to tease her that for the year she was single, she suddenly found it much harder to follow her own advice.
Anyway, in the first year, I never called her. I don’t call anyone. I am not a phone person, and I simply do not want to intrude into someone’s life. After a year of her calling me so we could hang out, she finally confronted me on the non-calling thing. She didn’t mind doing the calling; she just wanted to make sure that I wanted to be friends.
That stopped me in my tracks. Here was this really cool woman who actively wanted to be my friend. What’s more, she went out of her way to make sure that I wanted to be friends with her. What the fuck? Are you kidding me? After that, I made sure not to take her for granted. I still didn’t call her, but I started emailing her on a regular basis. I’ve always been much better with the written word than with the spoken one, unless I have a script.
Many of my fondest memories have been with her. We went to Texas together so she could see her other best friend and I could meet a guy I had hooked up with online (an unmitigated disaster). Her other friend had a cat that had just given birth to kittens, and Kiki was determined to bring two of them back to Minnesota. I asked if her hubby was ok with it, and she said yes. Now, animals were not allowed on the planes at that time, so we had to engage in a bit of subterfuge. Security wasn’t as strong back then, so we managed to smuggle the carrier covered with a cloth onto the plane. Now, we just had to hope the kittens would be quiet on the looooong flight back to Minneapolis.
They were so good on the flight. However, we had a layover in…I wanna say Kansas City, but it might have been Wichita. I don’t remember. As soon as everyone deplaned, the kittens started mewing. Kiki and I exchanged glances and raised our voices, carrying on a determined conversation. I could hear one of the flight attendants say to another, “Do you hear cats? I could swear I hear cats.” Kiki and I joked about getting kicked off the plane and having to call her hubby to come pick us up in Kansas City/Wichita/St. Louis. Hey, I told you I don’t remember the city. It wasn’t really funny, but we had to joke or we’d go crazy. To our relief, the plane filled up again, the kittens quieted down, and we made it to Minneapolis without incident. The minute we touched down, I whipped the blanket off the carrier because what could they do to us now? The same attendant who had made a comment about hearing cats looked at the carrier as we exited and said, “I knew I heard cats!” She laughed in relief, and we were on our way.
Then, Kiki’s husband saw the kittens and blew his top. Apparently, he had told her not to bring kittens back. Apparently, Kiki had ignored him.
At the time, it was an uncomfortable situation, but in retrospect, I have to admire the fact that Kiki was willing to face her hubby’s wrath to bring home kittens that she wanted and that she knew he would love. And he did. He made up songs for them and kept changing their names until he found ones he liked for them.
Kiki is a firm believer in doing things that bring you joy. She hates joykillers, as she calls them, the people who trample on your dreams with all their doubts. If she gets lost, she just keeps driving until she finds her way again. She doesn’t get flustered or mad–she considers it a lark. She’s a poet who has a lyrical way with words. She’s the kindest person I know, and she can see the good in anyone.
When I lived in the Bay Area, she came out for a conference in Berkeley. I stayed in her hotel room with her for a couple of days, and we had such a blast. One night, we watched Charlie’s Angels on the pay-per-view thing, and it stopped ten minutes from the end. We called the front desk, and they said they had to start it over from the beginning. We argued, but they wouldn’t budge. So, we went out to smoke, and then returned to watch the whole damn thing again. And you know what? It was a fucking blast. Why? Because anything we do together is a fucking blast.
She is the yin to my yang. She is the light to my dark. We have basically the same views on life, but hers has a more optimistic twist at the end of them. She is someone I know I can call at four in the morning to let me out of my refrigerator (don’t ask. It hasn’t happened yet, but it will).
We have taken very divergent life paths since we first met. I have been a dilettante, doing a bit of this and that. I have lived the single life. I have staggered and floundered on my path in life. She, on the other hand, has become the director of an at-risk high school (not, juvenile delinquents) and a mother to a wonderful almost-six year old girl who would rather run a tattoo stand than a lemonade one. She lives in Victory, and she is urging me to move so we can be like Rhoda and Mary.
I can see growing old with her. I can imagine us still going out when we’re old biddies. I’ll be the one telling the damn kids to get off my fucking lawn, and she’ll be the one fretting that they’re out past their curfews. I am so damn lucky to have her in my life. Thank you, Kiki, for being my soul sister. I never would have made it this far without you.