We’ve been friends for 50+ years. I call her “Shar” and she calls me “Care” (phonetically speaking). We got to know each other best when seven of us were ‘accelerated’ in Mount Royal Elementary School and they made us sit together for a couple of years. After that, Sari and I sat together because wanted to …
Sari was different … in some ways. She could read aloud faster than anyone else in grade school. It boggled my mind. And she always seemed so self-assured and confident. And, she was/is so naturally beautiful … never used cosmetics. In our teen years, just a touch of Vaseline on her eyelids if I recall correctly. She liked going barefoot. I tried pulling that look off a few times myself, but it never looked as cool on me as it did on her. She probably has the cutest feet on the planet. She had two big brothers and a gorgeous mom. She didn’t live with her dad either. And, although single parent families are fairly typical in this day and age, back when we were young, Shar and I were the only two I knew of who came from “broken homes.” But I don’t think we ever talked about it.
And she knew ALL the yards to cut-through as we trekked umpteen blocks forth and back to school together over the years. We knew we were smart, but I recall that one time in grade seven (maybe it was grade eight) we got really smart-mouthed and it got us separated in Mr. Poe’s class. I cowered. I wasn’t as brave as Sari was. I always admired how she listened to her heart. I was always trying to please … and … she was no push-over. I admired that about her. I still do.
We were 13 in this picture … it was the year we started smoking … in her upstairs bedroom. We spent 59 cents on a pack of Craven M smokes and learned how to inhale over peanut buttered toast and tea. I’m not sure how long she kept it up, but I quit at 21. I think my first taste of alcohol might have been with her too … at about the same age. Sparkling wine … Baby Duck, Moody Blue or Lonesome Charlie. Sari doesn’t imbibe at all any more. My palate, however, has become far more refined and sophisticated … Merlot, Cab Sav, Tempranillo, or Malbec.
Shar has always been more down to earth and wholesome than me. She’s vegetarian and careful about additives and preservatives … she’s always been way more wary about what she puts into her body than me. And far more discerning about where she puts her energy. She has deliberately stepped out of the rat race as much as possible, for as long as I can remember. There was even a time when her children were small that she had no clocks. While she was dancing often and stringing popcorn with fresh cranberries for her Christmas tree … I was getting completely consumed by the mainstream madness. Yep, she was way ahead of the curve … intuitively aligned with the richness and grace found in life’s precious simplicities. I’m just catching up with her now …
After high school graduation, my mom and I moved away … about six hours away. I think we lost touch for a bit then … but it wasn’t for too long. And now, here we are … still miles apart in geography, but really just inches apart in spirit. For a while, we would occasionally split the difference and drive for three hours each in order to meet up in the middle. We would sit in a restaurant for upwards of four hours … and … still not feel completely caught up. I remember my butt would hurt but my heart would be so happy and my mind would be stretched to whole new horizons! Talking with Sari is like that …
And, maybe one of the things that is especially treasured for me is that she has been witness to my growth … not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. I don’t have any siblings. My parents are deceased. So are all my aunts and uncles. But, Sari knows who I used to be. I don’t need to explain myself to her … she’s already got the back story that has helped shape me. She was there for much of it … in my most formative years.
And, for me, to feel so deeply known is something very rare. And exceptionally precious …
Somewhere along the way, we quit driving all that way. She’s not on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram … so now we pick up the phone instead. We have been doing it faithfully, twice a year, for many years. She calls me for my birthday (February) and I call her on hers (July). And, we have to be deliberate and thoughtful about when we choose to call … because we are going to need a couple of hours … at least … for sure.
I cherish our conversations …. because they have such depth. Superficial ‘chit chat’ simply does not characterize our exchanges. I think it is safe to say that it does not interest either of us. And I delight in the unique nuances that characterize her soulful spirit and evocative expression! There is something so captivating about the way she strings her words together … with vibrant descriptors that might not be honored by Merriam-Webster but are so vividly apropos. For example, she might be more likely to say “splooshing” than “splashing” or “moodling” than “pondering”. Yes, I’ve always loved that about her. I still do.
“How are you?” is never just a nice, culturally normative greeting in our conversation. I know she really cares about my answer … and … I feel comfortable to be real and honest and open and transparent with her. And Sari is, hands down, one of the best listeners on the planet. I never feel like she wants to interrupt and redirect the conversation. And I can sense that she is feeling my heart in my words and being a caring and supportive steward of it. And she asks the most thought provoking and compelling questions. Her curious spirit invites consideration of previously obscured complexities and plunges us to juicier layers … propelling the conversation to a more raw, real and authentic place. I have always deeply appreciated about her. I still do.
And, when it’s her turn to share, I really and truly want to hear all about the things that are kindling her internal fire and/or the details that are weighing on her heart and/or the mysteries that are sparking uncertainties in her clever mind. She’s had her own fair share of heartaches and health issues … meeting them with strength and grace and the most inquisitive introspect. She’s always stretching herself to the next evolution of who she can be in the world. I love that about her.
She’s still an avid reader and I am beyond grateful to her for introducing me to Marianne Williamson and Neale Donald Walsh and Wayne Dyer and so many other phenomenal perspective shifters. Were it not for Shar, my own persistent pursuit to self-awareness would have been far more shallow. And, it is beyond wonderful to have another like-minded soul who is equally enthused about limitless possibilities, human potentialities and consciousness raising. Yes, there are really not too many people who are so indescribably interesting to converse with … who can bring light to the dark hollows that I didn’t even know were within me.
So … Sari, this heartfelt compilation of ‘Better Because of You’ tributes would never be complete without acknowledging you! I could never have anticipated that our connection would run so long or so deep …or feel so precious to me. Our friendship feels like a gift that just keeps getting better and better and better and better.
Which reminds me … I was listening to Pema Chödrön the other day … an audio recording of a course she taught called “Coming Closer to Ourselves.” And, SHE reminded me so much of YOU … her intonations, her laugh, her humble expressions of awareness. As odd as it sounds, it was all the better to feel such a connection to you while I was ‘coming closer to myself’. Well, that has probably happened before … 🙂
Yes, it does not escape my awareness that I am so much better because of who you so generously invite me to be in our togetherness. I remain eternally appreciative for all the rich spirit and spunky charisma you bring to our time together. You are a cherished part of all that is divine in my life.
And so, my cherished friend … thank you for being you! Thank you for touching my life with your rich, authentic and genuine spirit. I admire and adore your being … and … I thank you for loving me for being me.
With eager enthusiasm for our next heartfelt exchange, Care ❤ xoxo ❤