Solstice stories: ready when you are
[This entry is restricted, though I could have removed one sentence and made it public.]
If you knew I were writing this list, and I doubt that you do just yet, you would not expect to be on it. I don't think you've ever seen yourself as important. I've never known how to change that, but I hold to the belief that you will see it, given time and consistency on my part.
My friendship (and brief more-than-that relationship) I had with you has taught me much about human nature. You are, body and soul, a chess player; disciplined, level-headed, always seeking clues to stay one step ahead of life's obstacles. I know now that I initially approached you in the most wrong way possible; I tried to beat you at your own game and lost, miserably. I was not just beaten, I was damn near pwned, and deservedly so.
You are just that much better at it than I will ever be.
You are someone I want covering my back, because you are not just perceptive, you are fiercely loyal in a way I have rarely seen before. You couldn't give a rat's ass about ninety-nine percent of the world. About half of the remainder you could probably take or leave, most of THAT remainder you generally like, and that leaves about twenty people in this world. Those twenty? You will eat the souls of anyone who wrongs them.
I am a small woman in a big world, and you are one of my giants.
A memory, early on in our friendship, which I have never failed to laugh at: your utter destruction of me in a game of Acquire. I'd fumbled my way through the game as best I could, hoping to do reasonably well, until you proceeded to lay down a play that won you the game. To top off the win, you folded your hands, closed your eyes, and dispassionately told me what cards I had in my hand at the time. At that moment I just realized I'd played a card game against a card-counter, and amazingly, I—a terribly, terribly competitive person—was glad I'd played you.
Glad. Really! Why? Because the only thing I'd lost was a card game, and now I knew for certain that I'd rather have you with me than against me.
In return, though, I must confess a failing of my own. I didn't get to this place in our friendship overnight. You are stoic, and I am not always so sure of myself, and certain ratios of those two traits can lead to major misunderstandings. Mine was that I took quiet for indifference, and failed to perceive that this friendship was far more important to you than you would ever dream of actually telling me.
Explaining that anecdote requires acknowledging this fact: Friday afternoons are yours. I never can predict exactly when they become yours, because it's dictated by your schedule. Sometime on Friday afternoon, my phone buzzes with a text message: "Ready when you are."
My reply is the same every time: how many minutes I need to bring my current task to a stopping point, and what number to call. My mistake was in assuming the importance of the call could be discerned from its topics, and ours aren't always deep ones. We talk about what movies are opening in your theater. How the cats have been. What's coming up next week. What's for lunch, what's for the weekend.
Sometimes it's five minutes, and sometimes it's fifteen, but you always call. It took a while (and the comments of a mutual friend) to realize that this call was as important to you as it was to me. It's not about the words said; it's about two people, in different time zones and with wildly disparate sleep schedules, making a point every week to stay in each other's lives in a small, consistent way.
I love sneak-attacking you with hugs, because you can never decide whether to hug back or swat me for impertinence.
I'm still going to steal your white blanket if you ever turn your back on it while it's in the room with me.
I keep hoping we'll both end up the wolves in a game of Werewolf one day, because I think we could run the table and no one would ever see it coming.
Love you, dear; I smiled at the clock during our phone call today, knowing I'd write about you tonight. I'll see you in January, and you'll fail to dodge the hug, as usual. I think we're both okay with that, though neither of us will ever say it out loud.