Monday, May 17, 2010

Beginning College and Friendship


by Mary Margret Daughtridge

“Can you take me to my chemo session?” BFF asked, after falling over herself with apologies for asking. “My car is in the shop.”

She didn’t need to apologize. Our friendship has been around forever. She should know by now she can call me anytime. Still my quick “Yes!” couldn’t be attributed to altruism alone, or even the reciprocal bonds of camaraderie. FF has a gift for organizing ideas on a page, and I had blogs to write for my upcoming virtual book tour for SEALed with a Ring.

“First,” she said, as soon as she was settled in the recliner and the IV’s were running, “explain what a blog is.”

Computer literate long before I was, FF has only recently grasped email. She isn't au courrant with the Internet. I thought for a minute. “Do you remember newspapers?”

“Yes,” she answered gravely. I guess she assumed, like the nurses, I was checking out her neurological status.

“Well, then you remember how they used to have columns, and people read their favorite columns everyday?”

“They still do. “ FF’s gray eyes narrowed to let me know she was just this close to taking offence. “And I,” she leaned on the pronoun, “still read them.”

I got to the point. “Blogs are to the Internet as columns are to a newspaper.”

“Oh. I thought they were drivel.” FF taught college students to write, and write very well, for many years.

Her trace of academic snobbery was totally unconscious. I let it go by. “Writers like me are sometimes invited to contribute to a blog—like a guest columnist.”

I went on to explain my problem with blogging in the sort of heartfelt and neurotic detail that only a BFF understands (and doesn’t judge) which is why they are a BFF in the first place.

FF sat a little straighter—well, as much as one can in a recliner. “What are

your topics?” she snapped in a schoolteacher voice. I smiled to myself. She was hooked. I was in.

FF and I met on the Science Building steps on the very first day of college. Right is the Science Building. I don't know who the girl is.

FF’s looks will forever brand her as cute. She has a round face and round cheeks, and a round little body, so short even I look tall beside her. Her wide smile dominates her face anytime she uses it, which is a lot, and talk? The girl will talk. To anyone. At any time. About anything on her mind at that moment.

At the age of eighteen, she embodied cute. At the age of eighteen, I embodied nerd. Too thin, flat-haired, adrift in esoterica most of the time. She was the one who made the two of us into friends.

And no I’m not going to tell you how long ago I was eighteen. She hates it when I reveal my age--hers being the same. Anyway, she’s been untangling my confused thoughts whenever I had to write non-fiction for almost that long.

The first time she sorted me out, we were wedged in a long, long cafeteria line. I was angsting over a term paper. I had done the research. As always, I had in fact done too much research, but … What can I say? One question leads to another. Now ideas bounced in my head as randomly as balls in a bingo cage.

While the line snaked around the cafeteria in the humidity caused by steam tables and smells of meat and vegetables combining, not always felicitously, her clear gray eyes sharp with intelligence, she, who knew nothing about my topic, asked one incisive question after the other. She pursued each subtopic, until she asked me what conclusion all my research had brought me to.

“Write that, “ she said when I was done.

“Write what?”

“What you just said. You don’t need more research, and you’re not confused. You just told me your whole outline.”

And just like that, she switched off brilliant interrogator, and reverted to cute.

I have sometimes wondered if anyone but me knows she can do that.

Oh Lord, I’ve digressed again. But I wanted you to understand why I jumped at a chance to sit with her while she was tethered in place, and have her clarify my thoughts on the subjects of “Writing cutting-edge action,” and “Why we love marriage of convenience plots.”

And how grateful I am that her rounds of chemo treat her lightly—she calls them “maintenance”—and the chemo continues to keep what she dismisses as “cells I don’t need” in check.

And why talking about beginnings and writing made me think about her.



16 comments:

  1. Great post, MM! My boss is going through chemo and it's been really rough on her. It's good your friend has you for a friend. Sending her prayers for a swift recovery.

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  2. As always, MM, your blog posts read like a Steinbeck novel. Sounds like you and your BFF have the kind of symbiotic relationship that all friends should have. I hope she continues to improve and that your friendship lasts a few more decades.

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  3. Thank you for the prayers Terry. BFF believes deeply in the power of prayer, as do I.

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  4. I remember sitting with my Mother while she went the chemo. She always told how much it meant to her not to go through it alone. You are a good friend Mary Margaret, God bless you and give strength to your BFF. I send my prayers for good health to you both.

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  5. Love reading your posts Mary Margret. Wish you blogged more often - hint, hint, wink, wink. :)

    So sorry about your friend. I do pray she will recover soon. BFFs are vitally important. I have a handful of true BFFs and know I would be lost without them. I can't even think of it without shuddering. My prayers are with you.

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  6. Steinbeck? I don't know about that. The simple truth is, telling a story--any story--is easier for me than writing any sort of op ed piece. I couldn't produce a column regularly if my life depended on it.

    "Symbiotic" is a good word to describe BFF's and my friendship. We both trust that there will be an exchange of nurture at every meeting. It makes any discussion of altruism or generosity not wrong, but sort of beside the point.

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  7. Jessica,

    Thanks for the prayers. BFF has gone back to work since I wrote this piece and she's looking really good.

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  8. Sharon, I'm delighted you enjoy my posts, but pleeeeeaaaaaase don't suggest blogging more often. Not unless you want some sort of serialized fiction, because trust me, my life isn't that interesting to anyone except me.

    Thanks for the prayers and good wishes. The BFF's "numbers" (as she calls them) were good at the most recent check. Clearly her treatment is taking her in the right direction.

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  9. What a lovely post! Sounds like you have a great friend AND a great brainstorming buddy there.

    I will be thinking positive thoughts for your friend's recovery.

    Tawna

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  10. Thank you for such a heart-warming post, MM. I loved reading about your friendship and why it has lasted and why you treasure it. She doesn't sound like the kind of person who would let chemo get her down.I found your post uplifting and it made me smile. Thanks!
    Amelia

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  11. Tawna, I am blessed and I know it.

    Thank you for the good thoughts. Attiude is so important. The more people who hold a positive, possible attitude, the more possible a positive result becomes.

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  12. Amelia,

    I had another post half-written, but somehow this one meant more to me--at least today. I'm glad it uplifted you and made you smile. (It made me smile too.)

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  13. Hi MM--

    Sorry I am late seeing this--what a fabulous post and a really amazing story. I hope for the best for your friend and know she will continue to inspire and help you with your writing!

    Danielle

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  14. What a lovely post, MM. Your BFF is now on my prayer list (It's getting long). I'm so glad you have a wonderful friend like her and that she has a wonderful friend like you. Sigh...now I have to call my BFF and tell her how much I love her...

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  15. Lovely post MM about the power of friendship. I'm glad to hear your BFF is doing well and will pray that she will continue on the road to full recovery!

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  16. This is such a wonderful post, MM! Thank you for sharing your friendship.

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