She sat two rows in front of and below me. The upward sloping stadium seats lent themselves well to a bird's eye view of the crown of her head. She was one of many that I observed in the awkward presence of not yet belonging. On that first day in a new institution, how could I have known what we would survive in the following year? Don't get me wrong, we haven't really cheated death, we haven't changed the world in any major facets, we just found ease with each other as most great friendships do in the beginning.
It was that course that bonded us, a group project, a late night with a morning deadline and a glass or two of champagne. Our thoughts were brilliant in the bubbly haze, in the 4am fog of good ideas and hopeful efforts. It was only later that we realized the ridiculous nature of our proposed idea, but too much time had passed and we had already committed to the lunacy of hosting a Single's Soiree. FOR A GRADE.
I won't go into the painful details and the embarrassing numbers of people who didn't show. I won't dwell on how all of us would have chosen a slow and lengthy death over standing before a classroom of peers to present our disaster. But I will say that without our stupid party, V and I probably wouldn't be friends.
She was the mutual entity in my meeting The Virginian. She was friends to us both then, and as I, without regard, without any sense of logic, fell for his facade, she was friends to us both still. There was one night, the day he left Nashville for home, that she and I embarked together on the therapeutic journey of drinking away my sadness. Again, I will omit the painful details in order to maintain a thread of respect from anyone reading this. I'll just say that I drank the bar. The whole bar - several of them, I think. When I reached maximum capacity, she was there to help me in more ways than I care to post publicly...I'll just mention that there was some hair holding and leave it at that. A true friend holds your hair.
Some weeks later I packed my car and moved. She stayed behind to tackle a horrific final semester of 21 hours. Even though we strayed in separate directions, only a day or two ever passed that bore an absence of contact. The Virginian and I began our slow saga of atrophy. She was there, most always, when I needed to cry, and the only times she couldn't be were those when she was honoring the insane obligation of too many commitments.
August became December and with the turning of seasons, came also the changing of minds. She was my encouragement when I knew I needed to come home. She was always an optimistic voice on the phone, and when I triumphed over the long drive and the lonely and confusing holidays with my family, she was there New Year's Eve to be my friend once again in person. We had successfully weathered our long distance spell.
Over the course of the last eight months, her advice has still been spilled forth as I fearlessly test the waters of silly endeavor after silly endeavor. We still go out. We laugh and cry both on the phone and in whatever riotous moment we might find together. She is conservative, I am...not. She's the epitome of class. She puts up with a lot of crap, and I put up with the occasional late night phone call when she is in need. She's a great friend to have, and those of you who don't know her are missing out on a little piece of joy in the world.