Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Happy Anniversary Shelby!

This morning I got a random phone call from my dearest friend Shelby. She was walking down the street in Manhattan and in between getting splashed by passing taxicabs, she told me that she had just realized tomorrow (May 25) is her ten year anniversary of moving to New York City, and wanted to tell me.

I've been meaning to post something about Shelby on this blog for months. The challenge is to condense the magnitude of all her goodness to me in a readable form. Upon further reflection this seems like an impossible task... but I'll give it a shot for her anniversary. It feels like a message from the universe, and I try to pay attention to those.

Shelby and I became friends in Omaha in 1992. For fourteen years, sometimes from a distance of 2000 miles and sometimes from across a kitchen table, she has been my best pal, staunch ally, beguiling partner in crime, challenging critic, travelling buddy, teacher, roommate, co-parent, sister, inspiration, and boon companion.

When I was going through an incredibly painful and difficult divorce, and panic stricken about being on my own, she sent me a brand new leather tool belt ("you can do it!") When I was sad and feeling like I had lost my mojo, a package arrived with sparkly disco underwear for me. When I was lonely and afraid, she made phone dates with me to make sure we kept in touch. When I royally screwed up and wounded her feelings, she royally chewed me out and then forgave me. When I wanted to hide and avoid confronting things that scared or upset me, she held my hand and made me face them.

When I really needed fun, oh boy, did I get it! Together the two of us have cut a legendary swath through Omaha, New York, Florence, London, Paris and Dublin. When we go out on the town together we are famous, indestructible, gleaming, self-sufficient, magical, the coolest people on earth. We kidnap people, and they feel grateful. She has helped me completely exorcise the hideous demons of high school unpopularity and geekhood.

When I desperately wanted out of Omaha, she offered to live with me and my seven year old son if we moved to New York. For two years, the three of us shared a home. It was messy, chaotic, challenging, scary and a lot of fun. She made huge adjustments - Connor's dirty underwear alone would have sent most people running for the door. She became, and continues to be, hugely important in my son's life ("Aunt Shelby!"). We live within walking distance of each other to this day.

When my ex-husband died, she was right there to commiserate and grieve, comfort me, help me pack, and be available on the phone during our interminable trip home for the impossibly wrenching funeral. When my car randomly burst into flames the day after I returned from said funeral, she stood on the sidewalk with me hugging me and patting my back as I laughed hysterically. When my mom died six months later, she and our friend Rebecca flew to Nebraska to be with me during the most profound grief of my life. When the time came for the two of us to split up housekeeping, she helped me look for an apartment and move. She offers to feed my cat when I am out of town. She and her husband take my son to the park, and keep him for the weekend when I go on a trip. Connor knows no greater joy than to be with Aunt Shelby and Uncle Andy.

Don't get me wrong, it's not an evil one-sided friendship (at least I hope not!!) - I know I have been a blessing in her life as well; we both enjoy helping each other and we love each other to bits... but I'm not sure Shelby knows how deeply I value the things she has given me.

Among all the many blessings she has showered on me, two big ones stand out.

First among all of them is the gift of her sincere friendship and love, through so many turbulent years. She knows me really well, better than almost anyone, with all my issues and all my gifts, and loves me no matter what. She has taught me so much about how to be a good friend, and it's a lesson I desperately needed.

Secondly, MY GOD!! - she gave me New York City, the source of so much happiness in my life. Because of her I get to experience the flat out JOY of living here. I've learned so much about myself and about the world, I've had the best food ever, I've discovered the beach, I've mastered the subway, my son is getting an incredible education, and I met my soul mate. It's a breathtaking gift - the gift of a new life.

So happy anniversary, dear. I love you so much. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


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