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Usually if I post a picture of someone or write something about them that they might consider personal, I ask permission before I publish it. I didn’t do that this time. Leslie will forgive me. Eventually.

Leslie has been my friend for as long as I can remember. During grade school she was kind of on the edges of my extended circle but she was always there. What I love best about Leslie is her ability to find a way to adapt to any situation. She just blends in and looks as if she’s always been there – and she has.

We didn’t start causing trouble together until high school. Leslie was always sweet and thoughtful while I was always kind of not sweet or thoughtful. One day she asked me if I wanted to go out to lunch, which was strictly forbidden. What? Leslie breaking a rule? Apparently that summer she had begun to break all kinds of rules and she forever endeared herself to me that day. In one summer, Leslie went from a shy, docile lamb to a complete wild child – and our friendship was sealed forever.

I’ve said before that we lost track of each other because we had different lives, but while that is technically true, it isn’t really what happened. What happened is that I was an asshole and I couldn’t admit that I was an asshole.

When I learned last summer (from a friend of a friend of an acquaintance) that Leslie had a heart attack, my own heart stopped. All my stubborn pride melted away and the only thing I cared about was that she was okay. We picked up right where we left off as if nothing had happened.

When all of this started happening with my mom, Leslie was the person I called. And the first thing she said was, “I’ll be there in five minutes.” Since she was twenty minutes away, that just proves she drives like a bat out of hell. Some things never change.

Leslie helped me pack my mom’s apartment, move everything, and then unpack it all. I was just overwhelmed with it all – and overwhelmed with her generosity. So I said, “Do you remember when we got into that fight …”

She looked a little wary, but said, “Yeah.”

I completely choked up then and all I could say was, “I just wanted you to know that I was an asshole and I’m so sorry.”

And Leslie was Leslie. She said, “You’re still an asshole. It’s okay. Jesus, stop crying.”

I tried to get cable internet the other day. Of course I couldn’t because the jack wasn’t activated and they have to send a tech out to fix it. I texted Leslie with my new smart(ass) phone. I kept making typos because it keeps censoring me. At one point, I tried to say I was pissed. What I typed was “I’m passed.”

Damn it.

Leslie texted back: Sorry but that made me laugh.

So I called her to tell her to fuck off (because my phone won’t say it for me). She answered, laughing, and I said, “Fuck you!” And I tried to laugh but I burst into tears instead because the entire world is upside down right now. So Leslie let me cry for a few minutes and then she insulted me out of it.

Leslie is more of a sister to me than my own sisters ever were. She holds me up, then beats me back down so that I know my place. I don’t know how she puts up with me. Even when we weren’t talking, I always knew she was there. I don’t know what I would do without her – and I hope I never have to find out.

She makes me laugh. She gets it. She never judges me (so that I’d notice). More than anything, Leslie has taught me what real friendship, acceptance and forgiveness is all about.

I love you, BeetleBug. Never change.

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