Acquaintances come, acquaintances go. meh.
Relatives? You are born with them, and, unless you snip snip snip them away, as I've done... you are stuck with them.
Friends add rich depth to your life, some enter it and stay for long periods, some slip in and slip out, never losing the well deserved term 'friend', they simply aren't around for the long haul. Time, distance... death.
They stay in your memories, you find a book, a card.. I watch K clearing out things, and her face lights up when she finds something from an old friend... you can see that drawer opening, things spilling out. She'll share a story or two, and we move on.
I have my sisters that come into my life, ones that are newer... three that have been around for decades, so long, I actually have times I forget they aren't blood.
Miss Sof is one of those.
Back in the day, I worked for a corporate behemoth.
I'd started out in the Rocky Mountain High, well dressed, one of the busy number of gazillion workers pouring out of a multi level office building. I'd started in a small office, where I learned a number of things... one of them was to tear a phone book in half.
Yes, I, Quin, can tear a phone book in half. Straight down the middle. I used to be able to do one the size of Manhattan...now, we're looking at Wantagh, still... the point is, it's a skill I possess.
It used to earn me rent money in biker bars on bar bets. Trust me, I never make a bet I know I won't win, and I won quite a bit back then on that little skill.
Where was I?
Oh, yes, Miss Sof.
I transferred to a city that people in L.A. have to train in oddness to move to... Mork would have been Mayor, he was that normal. I started out at a large facility and when they consolidated offices, we joined with the scruffy Customer Service branch.
They were the 'cool' kids. Very Boulder, very hip, very.... cool.
The Leader of the Pack was Miss Sof. No one argued the fact, it was a given. If you had to look for the Union label, you looked for Miss Sof. Had a question about anything in the system?
Where was the best place to eat?
What lens should I use to take that photo in the dawn with snow coming down?
How do you do this? Where to you get that? What team won the pennant in 1918?
She is the bomb. Red hair.. Russian Red, wiry, curly, thick, white skin, freckles soft on that white skin, fox eyes. Like all of my friends, she has a great laugh and a big, forgiving smile. She calls me Quin Anne.
She wore Levi 501 jeans, and tshirts when I wore suits. She knew, well, everything. I wanted her to like me.
She was everything that was cool in the world, in my eyes. And, she was so unaware of the amazing person she is, it was even better.
Her daughter has a unique name. Miss Sof and Mr R took the child with the amazing name to Disneyland. There, AmazingNamed child sulked. Why? Because there were no items ready made with her very unique moniker. She announced she was going to change her name, she was well done with it, she said, in a tone only she can use.
Oh, said Miss Sof, well, you can use your middle name, Brooke.
Piffffttt, declared her daughter, so like her... I'm going with Eddie. You can always find things with Eddie on them.
For years, if i saw anything with Eddie on it, I bought it for her. I would now, if she wasn't doing her doctorate and wouldn't use the wooden pencils I'd send.
I had grown close to Miss Sof, I called her on the half hour when I was in labour with the Jarhead.
"Watching Donahue now," I'd announce. She'd pass the word on to the office. She laughed as I passed my day, struggling to give birth, and marking time with sitcoms and talk shows.
Miss Sof married Mr R, and they had TheCaptain. She wouldn't wear maternity pants for ages, the silly ducks and flowers completely out of character for her. So, she threaded rubber bands though the buttonholes of her 501's and looped them over the buttons, stretching them as long as she could, wearing big shirts. She schlepped in flip flops the day of her surprise shower, late to work, all of us dancing about.. Miss Sof was NEVER late, don't tell me she picked today to have the baby... it was her shower, ffs.
TheCaptain, like Eddie, is a woman in her own right. Brought up by a strong woman, with a supportive dad, she's a delight. I'm lucky like that... I've yet to have a friend with shitty kids.
We'd hang around together, go to aerobics... the other women in spandex, Miss Sof and I in huge shirts and sweat pants. One day, my nursing pad fell out as we marched around, and we suppressed laughter, as we kicked it away each time we passed the spot.
I'm sure no one noticed.
Our children grew up around each other for a few years, TheCaptain even spending nights when we moved down further south below the old house.
There was a time I didn't see Miss Sof. It had to do with the ex, and because my children read this journal, I won't go into details. I was given an option.
I lost. For 'just now', I had to pretend I didn't have a Miss Sof, and I grieved quietly.
One day, I woke up, and dialed her number, and she said, "Quin Anne, how are you?". It was bumpy, it was sobbing on my side, and it was her dear voice and, she was, there. 'Just now' was over.
She simply waited, for 'just now' to pass.
She is a photographer and an artist. She's given me the great gift of my children's photos as they grew up, one set so spectacular, that the GoldenChild's ex wife kept them when they split... she loved the beauty of the work, not the subject matter.
The photos still hang in her home, 17 years later.
Miss Sof makes me laugh, she's one of my best audiences. She keeps me...honest. I can't squirm or twist or move around... she pins me down with those two words...
She moves on quiet feet, with a back that pains her... something she keeps to herself, listening to my woes... she raised her daughters, believed in them, let 'just now' pass there, too, for Eddie.
I can't find the words for Miss Sof. She is still the coolest of the cool, the one you go to. She has strong opinions and won't back down, no matter if you are her best friend or not. She does not make excuses for who she is or what she believes.
She doesn't have much of a blood family.... so, one year, I gave her photos of people I'd found in a junk store... and wrote on them, "To Miss Sof, Love Uncle Ferd and Aunt Gussie". She displayed them, and visitors thought they were real family.
She had what was the worst betrayal in the world happen from the person who is to love you unconditionally.... and, she walked with that hole in her being... angry, hurt, and she learned from it, what to do, how to live... what not to do. She moved slowly through 'just now'.
Miss Sof teaches patience with the phrase, 'just now', when I chafe at constraints of time, when she knows I want to howl at a closed door. She laughs, and chides and reminds me there is no right or wrong. Only decisions and consequences.
She, too, gives me the great gift of her friendship.
God loves me. Look at my friends, and tell me he doesn't.