pals

Home. Town.

OH HI. You thought I forgot about you, huh? No, in fact it is a true statement that I think about you pretty much every day. But life keeps going fast, filling up every dang minute, and this is it, May, before I blinked. “This is it, this is it! This is life, the one you get, so go and have a ball!”

If you read that and knew it was the One Day at a Time theme song, we are still friends. If you don’t know what One Day at a Time is, I won’t say we have to break up, but we may need to have a talk to realign our hearts. And the procedure for realignment may include watching One Day at a Time episodes.

I have many things to catch you up on, dear friends. Mainly, I TOOK A WEEK OFF. I am terrible at taking time off for the past couple years all of a sudden (WHO HAVE I BECOME) and it is straight bullcrap of the highest order. So many people don’t even have the luxury of such a thing as vacation days and here I am just letting them sit there. For Pete’s sake. More egregious than For Pete’s sake, actually. For Pete Gallagher’s eyebrows’ sake. Anyway, I did take a week off last month to go visit my homies in the homeland of Flint. First of all, my dear friend Map was celebrating her wedding anniversary and her kids threw her and their dad a surprise party for it. The entire party was a surprise, but me and my other friend Ali showing up from out of town was the surprise within the surprise. The goop inside the Freshen Up gum, if you will, only less disgusting. I have been to surprise parties before but this one was by far the best. First of all, because Map and her dude were HELLA SHOCK. It was so satisfying. And then, when she saw me and my dude and Ali, she was DOUBLE HELLA SHOCK. I mean, she looked stunned and she cried and was just speechless. I felt, in that moment, what it must feel like for Oprah. Just walk in and make someone lose their shit, you know? It was fun being Oprah.

Seeing those ladies fills up my soul. I am definitely a Friends-for-Life sort of person and if you are in my circle I give it my all, like FULL OUT, and if I am honest my Seattle friend-life has been sort of lonesome these days. It was so beautiful to be around these people that love me so unabashedly and unconditionally, the way I love them. THOSE LADIES! Love them like the dickens, for real. Plus, just the week was really blissful overall, hanging out with my beloved mama and tooling around town. It was perfect spring weather and flowers were blooming and everywhere we went we felt that Flint friendliness piling on. Seattle is cool but it doesn’t love me like that place does. My dude loves Flint as much as I do and we walked around my mom’s neighborhood and tried to figure out if it could be feasible to move back there somehow, because shouldn’t one live in a place that loves you back? We just couldn’t make it add up for now, for various complex reasons that are boring, and truth be told I know in my heart I would be singing a different tune if I got a taste of those ridiculous winters there again. I don’t have what it takes to live in an ice-based environment, as a person who is sitting here typing this while it is 65 degrees and wondering where my blankie at.

Anyway, dear Flint, thanks for making me who I am, and for still being there for me. I know part of it is that I am now an Old that feels almost nothing but nostalgia for better days, when my dad was here and my Flint friends were always there for me and I danced every day and the world didn’t seem as cruel overall as it does now. But I also love it for the parts that aren’t about me at all: so much beauty and dignity and fight there. I cherish that place, y’all, and will always be back. And my Flint ladies: until next time. LOVE YOU 4EVER and I wish I could Oprah you every day.

Stereo up and the windows down. Same old city, still driving around. It’s the only place I clear my mind. Passed the 7-11 and the neon signs.

Hold me close, then hold me tighter cause the world I know is falling apart, the world I know is falling apart 

–Michigander, Nineties

We Three

When I was a teen, I met a guy. I dated that guy for a quick minute until we realized that what we really should be for each other was homies. So homies it was, shoulder to shoulder, just thick as mothereffing thieves. When my actual dude came along eventually and I paired up with him, my kindred homie inducted him into the BFF-ness as well. The three of us moved around the Midwest for a while, never far apart from each other. When Seattle came calling, we answered together. The two of them roomed together Oscar and Felix style until it was time for me and my dude to room together Coach and Tami style. My guy and I bought a house and our homie bought one just down the way. We hung out pretty much weekly for two decades. Our friendship never failed, never flagged, never fizzled. Tried and true. That’s my dear Delium, who I call Delium because one time he got mail addressed to him as “Delium Ulrichter” which is not at all his name but I wanted it to be so I made it so.

My dear Delium changed up his job and life and stuff and part of that deal was for him to move to another state. Which he did. This past weekend. Leaving a Delium shaped hole in my life. Like, it doesn’t compute that he isn’t just down the way no more, waiting to hang with us this weekend. I really cannot comprehend it. His final night in Seattle, the three of us went to dinner, and it all felt normal, us just yukking it up with our usual nonsense, because having him around is so normal; he’s like one of the main pillars that holds up the house that is my life. WHOA WHOA POETRY TALK, TAKE IT EASY. I am just saying, when you live for so many years with a friendship in your face, it becomes like air. They are just what you breathe, until one day, you don’t.

As we walked out of the restaurant and said our goodbyes, I gave him a hug. And when we started to unhug, I all of a sudden could not let go of him. So I hugged him, and cried, and hugged him some more, and cried some more.  And he cried, and my dude cried, and it was truly awful. I know we are still homies and he is just moving away and this may sound dramatic to you, but whatever. It felt awful. I know a part of the awfulness is because, in the past few years, huge parts of my life have fallen away and although I have worked hard to let them leave gracefully, I have disliked every last bit of each time. The holes that those pieces have left have yet to be filled in and maybe they never will be. Maybe the way life goes is we walk around with gaping holes in us, I don’t know. At any rate, letting go has become a practice, and I could feel my Letting Go muscles flex, and I hate those muscles, you guys. I never really allow myself much time to think about how much I hate it, because what good does that do? It doesn’t stop the leaving from happening. But this time, I let myself feel it. Outside of the restaurant, freezing our butts off, on Delium’s last night in Seattle. Our little family unit tearfully held on, held on, held on for the last few minutes of an over-twenty-year streak. And then. We let go.

 

All We Have To Do Now

Remember when we used to write about pop culture and artsy farts and stuff? Those were good times. Are we ready to do that again? I say yes, because here’s the thing. This weekend, I had all these plans that I had made before the election, and on Wednesday I was thinking about all those plans and my soul felt like a little kid who has had enough of their day and just decides to go limp. You know how they do that? Just, wilt sag nope I am done I can’t oh the humanity. But many of those plans were with other people, and I didn’t want to be wilty cancellation lady, so I did all the plans. And it didn’t make me all the way better, but this is what it did do.

On Thursday night, I went out for karaoke, and I mean to tell you my ass was dragging all the way there, as grumpy as could be. But my friends and a whole slew of strangers had a religious experience to the tune of You’re So Vain and My Prerogative and Footloose and so many more. Strangers were hugging after songs, everyone was dancing to every song, and there was a point during Freedom 90 by George Michael where we were all throwing up our arms into the air, throwing our heads back and shout-singing ALL WE HAVE TO DO NOW, IS TAKE THESE LIES AND MAKE THEM TRUE SOMEHOW, ALL WE HAVE TO SEE, IS THAT I DON’T BELONG TO YOU, AND YOU DON’T BELONG TO ME, FREEDOMMMMM YOU’VE GOT TO GIVE WHAT YOU TAKE and I felt like maybe things would be ok if there were people like these just out here in the world, and I almost cried.

On Friday I went to see a performance of several Jessica Lang Dance Company pieces. One of the pieces was based off of interviews and artwork that was done by a group of veterans and another one was danced to a set of Shakespeare sonnets and they were the kinds of dances that I just wanted to go on and on and live inside of. When each dance ended and the lights went down, the audience would let out a soft, collective “oh!” My dear Delium said “It’s as if we all got gut punched at the same moment.” True, true, true. Didn’t we just, though?

On Saturday my dude and I went to see Moonlight, and it was so beautiful, and sad, and loving, and cruel, and kind, and delicate, and majestic, and stunning that I started crying fifteen minutes in and I didn’t stop all the way through, not even when the lights came up or when we walked out of the theater. We wrapped our arms around each other and went home, holding on tightly. That movie reminded me of everything that is important, and I am not kidding.

Time to get back to it, everyone. In all the ways.

Freedom 90, George Michael

Everybody Dance Now

Oh hai. I have not been to blog town for a little while because my computer went kaputs. I have had that dang thing since grad school so it was clearly ready to go to ‘puter heaven, but RATS  NOW DO I HAVE TO BUY ANOTHER COMPUTER? I do not wish to. Both because I don’t want to drop them hundos, but also because I really don’t need that extra thing in my life, do I? I can sit here and type on my little teensy tablet screen, right? I do not need several devices that basically do the same thing like I’m a gee dee Rockefeller/Roc-a-Fella. I mean, sucka please.

The things that I have been occupying my time with these days are a deep sense of foreboding that never quite goes away (thanks, presidential election!), and…actually that’s about it. I punctuate that with as much fun as I can pack in around the constant checking of Nate Silver’s website, but the site checking is solidly in the center. BUT LET US NOT DWELL ON THE APOCALYPSE BEING NIGH BECAUSE THAT AIN’T WHY YOUS COME HERE. Instead, let’s talk about that other stuff.

I went dancing the other week, which is something I would do every damn night if I could if not for two things: one, I have other things like snoozy responsibilities to take care of in life, and two, places with dancing are also places where dudes hang out who implicitly want to rub their weiners on you later in the evening and will try to buy you drinks or dance with you as a way to open the door to said weiner rub. I used to think that the solution to that last one was to only dance in gay-based venues, but it turns out that many of the places that I know of are now being infiltrated by heteros which: boooo! (Feel free to Alanis Morrissette me –ISN’T IT IRONIC– for being mad that there are too many hets in gay clubs because I want to go there myself as a dumb het. NOTED).

The thing that I would like to pitch is this: just as we now have karaoke joints that consist of renting rooms whereby you can warble in front of your handpicked auditory victims rather than a room full of strangers, why can we not have the same deal for dance times? Rent a room for you and your closest pals to go on down to get-down-town. Entrepeneurs of America (preferably the greater Seattle metro area); please make this happen. My friends and I would be most grateful customers. And think of something good to call it. “Private dancing” doesn’t have the right, well, ring to it, if you get my drift.

To recap: I will not spend my money on a new computer. I will happily spend my money on dancing with my friends in comfort. Sounds about right.

(Y’all what is happening in this vid?) Tina Turner, Private Dancer

You’ve Got a Friend (Cuz I said so)

Two things are becoming clear. One, Hayden thinks that I should be on the Bachelor. I know this because she has used the universal language across all Bachelor seasons that signifies a good contestant: she has deemed that I “put myself out there.” This is a phrase that is most often used to dismiss a bad contestant– “she just didn’t put herself out there”– so to say that I am doing the opposite means that at the very least I am still in the running to be offered a rose. This a great news! Two, I think that she has added data to my growing data set that for those most important to me in my life, I boss them into being my friend. I bossed my dude to hang out with me when we first met, even. If you are a close friend to me, think about it: how did we become friends and is it because I kind of made you? Aggressive friendliness: it is a common practice in Flint, where I grew up, and a cultural hallmark of Fiji where my family is from. I have significantly tamed this impulse in Seattle, where people do everything they can to not cultivate friends, and I will boss you only if you seem like you want me to. Most people I know are hanging out a figurative shingle on themselves that says “I MAY HANG OUT SOMETIMES IF I REALLY HAVE TO BUT DON’T GET ANY CLOSER” and I am good at heeding that sign because ain’t nobody got time for that BUT if you seem like you kinda want to be for reals friends? BOSSYPANTS ARE READY TO BE WORN. I am glad Hayden is ok with my predatory friendship ways.

Subject change! I went to see my nephew in his very first crew race this weekend and I don’t even understand what I saw, y’all. I was a very disciplined teen myself, what with the dancey dance and all, but the fact that he has chosen, of all of the things in life, to do a thing that requires him to get up at the crack of ASS really does not make sense to me. I did not wake up early as a teen unless someone was making me. Ok, well, I take that back- my friends and I used to sometimes get up at 4 or 5am to go get a fricking hashbrown at McDonald’s before school and hang out but that’s only because we often never went to sleep the night before, so I don’t know if that counts but ANYWAY. This kid is getting up early to exercise. WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH THAT. I mean, I get up at 4 or 5am nowadays but I am an old crone that no longer requires sleep because I have my life regrets to fuel my brain. In fact, I have that to get back to right now. Very busy.

Bey-vangelicals

Listen, before Hayden and I get to our recap of seeing Beyonce live last week, I just want to say this. There are five thousand million think pieces in the world about Ms. Knowles Carter that talk about the art that she makes, the feminism she touts, the brand that she creates, the politics that she embodies, the Everything that she Everythings. There’s nuanced writing, thoughtful writing, with subtlety, with close-reads, with acknowledgement of the deep strata of her body of work and what she means to the culture at large. What follows here ain’t that writing, y’all. What follows here is us BARFING OUR FEELINGS OF RAINBOWS. Just so we are clear. Ok, I’ll start.

R:As my dear co-blogger mentioned a couple weeks ago, I am kind of an awesome person in that I got her tickets to the Beyonce concert for her birthday. Sure, it would be fair to say that I actually bought MYSELF a ticket to the concert and then gave her one too. But I believe that it was Mother Teresa who said: “give of oneself in a way that makes sure you get your’n also.” I was excited to go because I always have fun with that Hayden lady and also I am a Beyonce fan in general. I had some trepidation about going to an event in a stadium because I do not enjoy sportage so therefore my knowledge of how to even attend such a venue is limited. But for this, I would stadium it up. I figured it would be an awesome concert, like a ten on a scale of ten. BUT YOU GUYS IT WAS LIKE A THOUSAND OR LIKE MAYBE THE SCALE WOULD JUST BLOW UP FROM GREATNESS LIKE I DO NOT EVEN KNOW HOW TO SAY WHAT WE SAW AND HEARD. Ok, first of all, our SEATS. H, tell them about the seats!

H: THE SEATS.
So, we had floor seats, which of course I was excited about.  Who has floor seats to Beyonce? I figured we’d be out in the middle of a sea of seats, and that’s still very cool and better than the nosebleeds. But in fact, there was a main stage area up front, with a longer L-shaped stage sticking out from it. We were right at the end of the L. Which meant that when Beyonce danced out to the end of the L we could ALMOST TOUCH HER. I was sitting next to a high school boy who was there alone, and almost died from joy when he realized how close we were going to be to they Bey. (Side note: I loved that kid.)
There was a structure on the main stage that was about the size and shape of a 6-story building. When we first sat down Rekha said, “Do you think that thing will spin around or something?” And I was all, “Ha ha no my foolish child, it will just have images projected on it and stuff. It’s cute that you think it might spin tho”
Well GUESS WHAT. It did have images projected on it. It ALSO spun around, and SPLIT IN TWO and had TRAPEZE ARTISTS INSIDE, and there were HIDDEN DOORS on the bottom that the dancers could go in and out of, AND. It was nuts.
R: Aside from the spinning 6-story building, there were 20-foot vertical fire sprays you could feel in your face like you were standing next to a dragon and then the stage filled up with water and everyone came floating out on a conveyor belt and IT SOUNDS LIKE I AM MAKING UP STUFF BUT I CANNOT DESCRIBE IT ALL. But honestly, all of that was just a backdrop for Beyonce herself. I don’t know if it was because we were so close to her but she was truly astounding to see, and I mean ASTOUNDING. Like, the power with which she sang was for serrrrrrious. Over two hours straight, no stopping (except for some costume changes that somehow took less than a minute each), every note just so perfect. And also, full on dancey dance and she wasn’t ever out of breath the whole time. We were right in her face and SHE BARELY EVEN SWEATED OR NOTHING. She kicked water right in our faces from two feet away and WE LOVED IT. KICK AT US AGAIN MY DARLING. And there wasn’t no lip-syncing either. I just don’t even know how to talk about it. Hayden, help a chick out. WHAT DID WE EVEN JUST SEE WAS THAT REAL
H: IDK PRETTY SURE BEYONCE IS MAGIC AND THEREFORE MAYBE NOT REAL??
The whole way home I kept saying things like THIS IS WHAT CHURCH SHOULD BE LIKE BEYONCE IS AN ANGEL THANK YOU FOR KICKING YOUR FOOTWATER ON US BEYONCE.
She really is the ultimate performer, but also possibly a perfect human? Like, her hair was always blowing in the breeze in the most photogenic possible way. And she had this way of making us all feel like part of her perfect magic? I don’t know how to explain it except that before this, I was a Beyonce fan, and now I am BEYHIVE TO THE MAX.
R: ALSO. The layering of images and videos and music and dance and poetry was so awesome. Like, there was fun and pathos and politics and it was just so artful it sort of hurt to be there taking it in. And somehow the whole thing felt totally organic and grounded EVEN WITH THE SHOOTING FLAMES AND STUFF. The spectacle was happening but it all felt so simple and not overdone at all. Just gorgeous, top to bottom. The talent and smarts of that lady were just KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF GOOD, AND ALSO YOUR PANTS AND KNICKERS AND BRASSIERE JUST ALL OF IT KNOCKED OFF. I KNOW WE ARE YELLING A LOT IN THIS POST BUT IT WAS LIFE CHANGING. You think we are overstating but I PROMISE YOU. I ain’t never seen no business like that business.
H: Thanks so much for reading through our screamy devotion, you guys. I really appreciate the fact that you didn’t run away like my friends and coworkers have started doing whenever I start talking about Beyonce’s foot water.
And the biggest, hugest thank you to Rekha. I look forward to a future in which I often bore all the nurses in the assisted living facility with my stories of Beyonce’s talent, magic, and abs–and the amazing woman who brought me into the Beyonce light.
This was an incredible birthday gift and you are an incredible friend. Love you, girl.
R: Only half sure that last sentence wasn’t directed toward Bey.

North and South

I am taking trips faster than I can write about them, fellas. I knew something was up when I started looking forward to getting on a plane because that was a few hours of guaranteed quiet and sleep. Who looks forward to sitting in a sardine can for hours? I do. Bring it, upright, open-mouthed sleeping slumped next to strangers! Pass the Calgone!

Two more trips to tell you about. Ready? Ok.

I went on my very! first! ever! trip to the state of Texas. San Antonio to be exact. I looked for Tim Riggins and Six everywhere I went but no dice. I did try to make my hair as Tami Tayloresque as it could possibly go (to dreammmmm the impossible dreammmmmmm). I did not make it over to the Alamo which was disappointing but did not stop me one bit from saying all the Jan Hooks parts from Peewee’s Big Adventure to my traveling companions even though they didn’t know what I was doing because I. am a DELIGHT. I did the River Walk thingamabobber and I ate some fricking delicious Mexican food that most definitely did not have New York City salsa on it (NEW YORK CITY?? GET A ROPE. I just have to). Oh, and the hot weather. LOVE YOU HOT WEATHA.

Then last week I got on another plane/upright napping pod to visit my dear sweet mama in Michigan. We were there for a week and that lady put us to work. We fixed stuff, did yard work, winterized the house, cleaned out the garage. I still find it hard to be there without my dad, which makes me sad on a couple of levels because I used to love being there so much and now it’s more difficult than it is enjoyable, but keeping busy and focusing on what my mom needs makes it feel ok. I got to see my pals Alli and Chris and Steph who all happened to be in town that weekend, and catch up with my favorite cousin of all times for a quick second too. My mom watched a Harry Potter movie with us for her very first time and provided fresh and insightful commentary (on Snape: “What is wrong with that guy? I think maybe it’s his hair.”) and I was introduced to Tiny House Hunters on HGTV. Michigan was in full October gorgeousness the entire time.

Now: back in Seattle, it hasn’t stopped raining since we got back, my dude is sick, and there are many, many hours of work to catch up on. Two more trips coming up in November. Deep breaths, me. Deep breaths.

Blew Through the Windy City

 I went on a hectic dash around the country a couple of weeks ago and neglected to tell you about it because there is mad shame in my blog game these days. It is all but a hazy memory by now but I’ll try to catch you up.

First stop: Chicago

  • The early fall warmth of a midwest autumn (and resultant doubling in size of my hairdo) combined with hanging with Alli, my friend since I was 4, and her dude Chris, my pal in his own right, always the best.
  • We went to the Art Institute, an oldie but goodie in my life, and proceeded to wander around in 100 different directions yet still somehow always end up in the middle of the ancient Greek pottery. Of all the arts to lay eyeballs on, I think that looking at what cups people were drinking their Hellenic era hooch out of is probably one of my least faves, yet at the Institute, all roads lead back to carafes from BC times.
  • More art was seen at a big street art fair in Wicker Park. We walked around, it was hot as snot, the art was awesome.
  • As always happens when I am at Alli’s and Chris’ house, I am exposed to more sportsball in one weekend than I am the entire rest of the year just by watching tv with them. This time I learned that baseball games last hundreds of years. I think I saw people in the stands drinking out of Hellenic vessels.
  • Do not let Alli make you her gin and tonic right before taking you out to eat a meal with people you have not met before unless you want to be stone cold drunk when you meet them for the first time.

Chicago done. Next up, Madison.

Consumables #141 Reading: Modern Romance

This weekend was slow and sultry, and as such I didn’t venture too far from home all weekend. I had a bit of an intense work week and felt quite dipped in overtaxed glaze by Friday, so I was ready to marinate in some 90 degree weather and shush my brain up. We did end up going to a cornhole party, where it turns out I do not suck as bad at that game than in years past, which makes sense because what is cornhole but a game built for the antique human. We played a few games, ate some potato salad, and chatted with friends until after the sun went down and we continued to sit in our lawn chairs to become All-You-Can-Eat mosquito smorgasbord. I love summer.

I have a friend who I know through this here blog, and she’s one of the few blog friends that I have connected with for years but have yet to meet in person. Through our correspondence over the years, we took the blog friendship to the next level. To use dating parlance, blog-related comments was first base, emailing was second, and becoming Facebook friends takes it to third. Yeah, that’s right, I just equated Facebook friending to getting handsy below the equator. DEAL WITH IT. Anyway, we have been friends for years. I knew her before she had kids, and now she has two little school age kiddos. I consider her a friend, no less a friend than someone I’ve met in the flesh. She lives in the Midwest, in a state I haven’t visited since high school and I don’t know if and when we’ll ever meet each others’ faces.

One day I commented on something on her Facebook page, and someone else commented after me, and I was like WAIT A HOT MINUTE, because I knew this other commenter from a completely separate part of my life. Commenter was a friend of my friend in Seattle, and I was dying to know how these two random people knew each other. This weekend, Commenter was at the cornhole party, and I got a chance to ask her. Her answer? They are blog friends. Have been for years. Huh. The internets are so cuckoo.

I recently read Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari. Unlike the proliferation of books written by tv comedy people (hi Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Mindy Kaling, et al), this one is less a humor book and more a sociology book that’s written with a funny tone. Ansari teams up with a sociologist from NYU (and talks with many more sociologists) to explore dating and relationships in the digital age. They did tons of focus groups around the world and combed through existing studies to explore questions like: what are behavioral differences between relationships that start out online versus in person? How is communication affected by the proliferation of texting? I found the whole thing totally fascinating (despite a few unfortunate fat jokes- ugh, Aziz, I love you but you gotta interrogate your fat jokes and then stop that). Although the book is about romantic relationships, I found a lot of it relevant to friendships as well. As a person who has found several of my very favorite people through this blog, I can vouch for the realness of online connection. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic plus getting some yuks out of it, read Ansari.

Here’s my current summer jam while I am feeling slow and sultry, y’all.

Summertime, by Vince Staples

Consumables #139 Listening: Death, Sex, and Money

When I got to college, I was the most extroverted I have ever been before or since. I talked to everyone, and I mean everyone. I made friends with every person I met. I had no qualms about starting up conversations with people I didn’t know, and I felt absolutely no intimidation about chattering to anyone, anytime. I have no idea what THAT was all about, or where it went (actually I do know where it went, but that’s a story for another day), but I look upon that version of myself with a lot of fondness. Openhearted to a fault, that girl was, and it eventually got her into a world of heartache in some situations. Come to think of it, there is still a part of me to this day that struggles with the balance between openheartedness and the heartache that can bring (also a topic for another day). The quantity of my words and the aggressive friendliness that I had may be tempered a lot now that I am longer in the tooth, but the thing that I loved so much about who I was at that time was the unselfconscious need to connect with people. It was so naked, like, soul-wise. In talking to all of those people, I was merely wanting to really see them and for them to see me. It’s almost painfully uncynical, when I really think about it. What a little baby bird I was, flying around chirping to people, expecting them to chirp back.

This is the same year of my life that I decided, one night, to barge in to an acquaintance’s dorm room, where a girl that I thought was nice and funny and cool was sitting in her bed reading a book, and ask to sit down. She said yes, and I sat right on her bed with her and told her all the stuff I had been thinking about lately. It wasn’t dramatic stuff, but I just wasn’t hiding from her, which is what people do mostly, right? Chirp chirp! I was saying to her. This chitter chatter is actually my heart. This is me. Can you see me? This girl, who was quieter than me, listened to all of my thoughts, and to my surprise, stepped right up to that and told me all of hers. Here is a thing that has always been true for me: if you act unguarded and kind to me, I will fall in love with you straight away. This is a thing all of my loves have in common. I cannot resist it. If you are out there and you know I love you, friends, there are many reasons why, but unguarded and kind is the real, true reason at the heart of it all. I chirped, and you chirped back.

For the next few years of our lives, this girl (you all know her as Palindrome) and I talked. A lot. We talked and walked, we stayed up late talking, we could not shut up. Neither of us stayed at that college for long, and when we moved away from each other I remember talking on the phone for hours at a time. I remember us writing letters to each other, with stories and funny drawings. I still have them. I remember one time she came to visit me when I was at my parents’ house for the weekend and we talked in such a non-stop diaherria of the mouth sort of way from the beginning of the visit to the end, that after she left my mom just looked at me with a sort of awe and said “do you two EVER run out of things to say to each other?” And I had to be like: nope. Not really.

The thing about my friendship with Palindrome though, was not the quantity of words we said to each other. It was the quality. We were keeping it so real. Not that we were having heavy, deep talks all the time. But we were talking about shit that really mattered to us. It could be silly stuff, funny stuff, hard stuff. But it was unfiltered and we just trusted each other to hear it. Even now, years later, though Palindrome and I don’t talk as often, when we do talk, I still feel that bond between us. We listen to each other. It’s gold, you guys.

It is this quality of talking with people that I have been thinking about today. I still have that sort of thing in my life, thank goodness, because I am drawn to it like a heat seeking missile. If someone says something to me that feels lacking in artifice, trusting that I will listen to it, it’s like something within me lights up. Chirp, chirp. I see you. I cannot think of something that I love more than that.

I went on a short little trip on a ferry from Seattle into Puget Sound the other night with two of my pals. Between the car ride to where we were going and back plus the ferry ride itself, we had a few hours together with nothing to do but talk, and talk we did. It was a fun, airy sort of time, but I could have listened to those ladies talk all day long. Good conversation with sincere people. Best, best, best.

All of this is to tell you about a podcast called Death, Sex, and Money. It’s your basic NPR, Fresh Air style interview show, but the host has her guests talk about things that fall outside of polite conversation (hence the name of the podcast). People talk honestly about their relationships, their families, their joys, their fears. It’s like having a friendly acquaintance barge into your dorm room and tell you her business.

Chirp, chirp.