Having just returned from a week in New Mexico with friends, I thought I’d scribble a few random thoughts on the subject. Friends, not New Mexico…although I must say the scenery and atmosphere in Albuquerque was some of the most beautiful I’ve seen. Probably not to the residents, who see the desert and mountains and mesas every day, but for someone who comes from a land of forests and lakes and snow…it’s pretty damned spectacular.
I went to Albuquerque to visit friends, and we were sitting around one night trying to figure out exactly how long we’ve known each other. You may have seen “Surfergirl” posting on my facebook page or here. It was here, on the internet, where we started our friendship. We both frequented the same message boards years and years ago (we figured it was close to 20 years) when the internet was something shiny and new and computers were sold with 450 Ram memories, not a gigabyte in sight. They took ten minutes to turn on and warm up and at least a full 60 seconds to pull up a site, so commenting on message boards was an exercise in patience. There were several of us who bonded through humour…Judi was one, flip and Becca were two others who have stayed in touch. Perky, aka Jill Metcalf, joined a little late in the game and became one of the Intrepids, and still is. But we sort of lost touch with Penny and Ruth, Queenie and Cathy. Judi and Becca were the original adventurers who decided to venture north to the Tundra and visit a barely known author…me…who extended the invitation without really thinking THEY might think I was some kind of a nutcase. (And with me not thinking THEY might be nutcases LOL). But venture forth they did and we spent a great week eating and snorking good wine and generally laughing ourselves into fits every night. After that, there were other visits, back and forth, with me going to California (with Stupid) and Judi coming north with her hubby, Dave. Penny, Cathy, and Queenie came north one year, when Romantic Times held their conference in Toronto, but to my regret, I never did meet flip or Ruth. Jill was already in Toronto, albeit on the very opposite side of the city, so I see her the most, and I’ve known her the longest.
Perky and I first met at another conference…I think it was an RWA event. Virginia Henley and I were walking along a hallway, passing through a lounge, and we were chatting away…or at least I was chatting away. Virginia had stopped halfway through the room, distracted by a lifesized cardboard cutout of a male model with very few clothes on and was chatting him up while I carried on chatting with empty air. Jill, watching from a couch, was in hysterics, and thus a 30 year friendship, which I treasure, was born.
Virginia, at the time, also lived in Toronto. We first met in the Avon Canada offices. She flounced in like the amazing diva she was…and still is…in a white fur coat with a matching white fur hat perched on a jaunty, diva-like angle. A great effect if she didn’t keep having to blow puffs of air to dislodge the fur from her lips. We were both new authors at the time and our books had been chosen to launch the Avon Ribbon Romance line. This was back in ’82 and we’ve been close friends ever since…and oh, the stories we could tell LOL
Our writing careers took different paths and it was quite a few years later when Virginia and I both found ourselves writing for the same house again, this time Dell, where we fell in with another motley crew of authors who afterward called ourselves the Loopies: Jill Gregory, Jacquie D’Alessandro, Connie Brockway, Julia London, Julie Ortolon, Sherri Browning Erwin, and the late and sorely missed Kathleen Givens. The Loopies have been sharing good times and bad, tears and laughter for the last fifteen years…a long, long time in this cutthroat business and I have valued every moment.
I’ve lived in three whacky neighbourhoods and acquired three whacky sets of neighbours and friends. There were the Eden Pit years, when I was there at the birth of Kitchen Guy (who should remember the fact that I HAVE diapered him and so I know exactly what to cut off if the renovations aren’t finished by the time I return to the Tundra) and the North Noake years, where my son joined a baseball team and the parents all became close friends in yet another motley crew. Some of those parents are still best friends of mine today, one of whom…Gaile Brockman…was the catalyst to my current migration to Florida during the winter months…and my introduction to yet another splendid group of friends who also migrate south and have become the Hand and Foot Card Cult Club. And yes, we play cards whilst wearing our bling and our fascinators! Tres chic, doncha know. But Gaile and her hubby Bob are like family…our sons both turn 40 this year and we’ve been close for 26 of those years. Gaile and another baseball parent, Bunky, and I have stayed very close and dubbed ourselves the Three Muskatels for our affinity for good wine and many goofy adventures through the years.
Going back further, to the Bell Telephone years, I met Helen and her hubby Les, both of whom would drop anything and show up at my doorstep on a mere phone call. They were enormous help and support through the Apocalypse…aka the Divorce…and more recently, the Move. Not sure what I would have done or how I would have managed to keep my sanity and humour over the past three years without Helen and Les and Bob and Gaile. I hope they know they can depend on me just as much.
And even further back, I made friends with a goofy guy from the Dominican Republic. He was an exchange student who came to my high school for grades 12 and 13. A bunch of us sort of adopted him because he had never seen snow before, never walked on ice, and much like Ziva David on NCIS, mangled his English phrases enough to have us falling out of our chairs laughing. We stayed in touch for a few years after high school, but then kind of drifted away on our own paths for 45 years or so. Some people question the value of Facebook and think it more of an intrusion and an annoyance rather than anything of worth, but because of Facebook, Eduardo and I have gotten in touch again and it’s like nothing has really changed. Hearing his voice over the phone was like being back in those classrooms and bringing back all the great memories of the laughs we shared and the trouble we got into. One thing that did surprise me was the fact that we both saved pictures and correspondence we had written to one another all those years ago. He kept a poem I had written and I kept letters and pictures…even through the recent blitz when I was filling dumpsters with all those keepsakes gathered through the years, treasured at the time, but merely dust collectors when vying for limited space.
To all my friends, new and old…know that you have enriched my life beyond any and all expectations. I value each and every one of you…and there are dozens more I haven’t mentioned here, but you know who you are. *I* know who you are, and I thank you for all the love and laughter, the tears, the adventures, the moments of utter amazement. I hope we have many more years of memories to make.
In my own words, taken from that poem I wrote sooooo many years ago in the waning months of high school when none of us really knew what the future would hold…
I used to sit and think
How good it would be, to be
Part of something that wasn´t now
Or even then. Something new
And yet as old as a passing thought
That slips by on a summer´s evening.
I always thought that someday
A day would come when time was free;
Endless and bounding, filling my life.
But it´s not. Someday is gone; today is left
And today is just a hope for tomorrow –
How long can someone wish for tomorrow?
Today is what we have; what is real.
Now is time enough to live without borrowing,
And that is all that dreaming is –
You borrow time, and hope, and chance
And in the end, none are the answer;
Nothing happens, except that the dreams become longer
And become harder to escape from. I hope I do.
I don´t want to dream of life;
I want to live it.
Well, folks, I have and am still living it. And I have loved every damned minute, even the ugly ones when I thought today would never be over and tomorrow would never come. Thats what friends do for you. They take you out of your head and drag you in to the daylight. They hold your hand while you’re venturing down unknown paths and they give you the push and support you need when you come to a fork and don’t know which way to turn. It was Diane Kelly (Kitchen Guy’s mom) who dared me to write my first book, and even though it took six years and four unpublished manuscripts before the challenge was met, she didn’t let me give up.
That’s what friends are for and I hoard them like gold.