Alice and I met in 1972 when I was secretary of the Home Economics Dept. at the University of Greeley in Colorado, and she was a Home Ec student. Toward the end of 1972, or maybe shortly into 1973, I separated from my first husband and moved into a house in the country and was looking for a roommate to help share expenses. As luck would have it, Alice was looking to move either out of a dorm or out of her family home, I can't remember which, so she decided to move in with me.
The day came for Alice to move in, and her big brother helped. His name was David, and a year later he and I would not only be married, but expecting a baby.
So, Alice has been my friend for 36 years, and my sister-in-law for 35. During that time, we have gone from acquaintances to friends to close sisters-in-law, to not so close sisters-in-law, to long distance sisters-in-law. I can honestly say that she is one of my longest running friends, one of the people I most admire in this world, and someone I know I could turn to under any circumstances.
David and I left Colorado in 1988, and in the 21 years since I have only seen Alice maybe seven or eight times - in fact, I can probably remember them: (1) David's highschool reunion (2) sister Sandy's funeral (3) brother Corey's funeral (4) family reunion (5) our daughter's wedding, (6) their mother's funeral (7) she and I crossing paths in Texas (8) and her visit two years ago to us here in Georgia. The thing is - and I know you have friends like this - when we see each other, it is just like we were together last week. We pick up where we left off. And, when we part, I am inwardly distraught because I fear I will never see her again.
Alice and I are very much alike, and very different. Many of our characteristics - love of animals, joy of family, each having an only daughter child, books - are the same. But she's an incredibly spiritual person (and I don't mean in the religious way), very into how we work and what we can do to reach our full potential as individuals, and the path she has chosen for herself is basically that of life coach. Well, I don't even have the language to describe it, because I'm very much a heathen and a luck of the draw person who has no path.
We both have some wierd insecurities and self esteem issues, me because of my upbringing, she because of her relationship with her mother. She's almost always busy working on some project, studying, trying different things, and I'm a slug that is pretty much happy just vegetating in my house and garden. She never meets a person who she can't at least pretend to like and who she can't have a conversation with, and I'm a deaf mute who panics at meeting a new person and who hopes nobody takes note of my presense in any way.
Well, that's neither here nor there. The point is that she is one of my favorite people. As I think of her now, at this moment, for no reason other than that she is in my thoughts, I have tears on my cheeks and a lump in my throat. And she's coming to see us this Fall, and I can hardly wait.
She's probably reading this and wondering why I have this particular picture out of the dozens of better ones, or ones of us together, and why one that I so crudely cut into a circle and scanned! Because this is the one that I ran across those ten or so years ago that so perfectly showcased one of the things I love most about her. Her smile.
(I'll add a post script to that ... one of the things I love most about her is actually her heart, and since her smile almost always comes from her heart, it just warms a room by it's very presense.)