Monday, July 28, 2014

A friend is someone who…

A friend is someone who

1/ points out you have a whisker on your chin when you haven’t noticed it

2/ gives you a hug when you stand before her mute, with tears in your eyes

3/ listens patiently while you rant about what is upsetting you

4/ …knows the song in your heart and will sing it back to you, when you have forgotten the words.

karen and me big sur

A couple of days ago I got a letter from the Aging Hippie, who has been away from the internet for a month. (You remember letters? They come in envelopes and the postman brings them.) I was so excited to hear from her that I ripped the letter open roughly to devour it. Then later, when I was about to address a reply, I looked on the back of her envelope for the address, and a centimetre square piece of paper was missing, the piece which contained the P.O. Box number and the postal district. I couldn’t find it. And Dave – who cannot find anything of his own, but used to be an expert at finding my dropped contact lenses – found the scrap in my study bin.

The Peace Corps have given AH a mobile phone so I spent all my credit on ringing her. She was sitting on her bed, in her room, in the house of the family she lives with, learning Zulu. She is down a dirt track, a four hour journey from Pretoria and she has received no letters yet, though I, for one, have written twice. She sounded close. She is very happy, and said that being there with the Peace Corps has exceeded her expectations - which is wonderful. I’m so happy for her.

She wanted to know all my news, and I began with the horrors of Gaza. She has only seen a couple of headlines, and a two minute tirade came out of my mouth. Tears were in my eyes, and my voice got higher and higher, as it does when I am upset (“You’re going supersonic,” Dave says). She listened patiently, suitably appalled by everything I told her. Later, I told her about the family, and about how it is so hot here that I am outside playing instead of getting on with my screenplay.

Another friend of a different sort is Garrison Keillor, whose books are always a comfort. Instead of reading a long list of tweets from Gaza before I go to sleep, I read a piece from We are still Married. It’s a treat.

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