Sunday, January 20, 2008

My Gina

Once, a month or so back, I posted a piece of old writing on this blog, called The Angel. This piece starred, among others, Gina. Because I had written of her in an intimate, close way, and shared a story that was also hers, I had to tell Gina about this blog, give her the address. She started to read it, and she was the only friend of mine, just regular old friend, who knew about the blog. She still is.
Gina was my first friend here in the valley. We were in grad school together, we had moved here to go to the prestigious womens' collegel to get our masters' in teaching. We didn't know anyone. We started off in a cohort of six teaching fellows, all on equal ground, each paired with a master teacher, and taking classes each afternoon when school let out. Gina's master teacher gave her hell. She raised the bar super high, thinking nobody would actually try to reach it, but Gina did. It made her feel like a failure and she wanted to leave the program. She almost did.
At that time, it felt irrational to me, but I really didn't want Gina to leave. I didn't know her very well, but I felt like I needed her. I could feel that we had potential. I wanted to be her friend.
She stayed. She stayed for the year, and then she stayed for a few more, and then she bought a house, and moved her boyfriend here, and married him, and had a little girl 3 months after I had Aoife.
So now? Gina is like my sister. She is such a good friend that sometimes I feel like she is my wife or something, I know everything she is doing for each hour of the day and we talk several times a day and it's usually about nothing. We know the ins and outs and the ups and downs and it all comes out.
And here's where the blog comes in. Because it never all comes out. Not all of it. So suddenly, with one blog entry that probably pissed you off too, Gina felt like I was thinking things about her and not saying them to her face.
Diapers.
So of course I feel terrible, because even as I was writing the diaper-monologue I was thinking about how maybe Gina would read it and be offended, but offense wasn't necessarily what happened. What happened was that Gina thought, what else is she thinking and not telling me? And she felt like I thought she was yucky for using throw-away diapers and that maybe there were other things I was also thinking and not telling her.
Well, first of all, I tried to explain this but didn't very well, it's not that I think anyone is yucky or gross, I was just airing my thoughts on the matter. So I don't.
But there are things we don't say, and it's not that we're judging, it's just that I respect that everyone has their way of doing things and it isn't any of my business what they do in their house.
So Gina made, and told me, a good decision, probably one I would make myself: she isn't going to read this blog anymore. I actually do think this is smart. Who needs to know exactly what is going on in your best friend's mind when she's not talking to you? It must be eerie.
But here is what I want to say before she stops reading. Something else I might not ever say to her face, because I would start to cry, and so would she, and because friends are usually too much into what is happening to say these kinds of things, even though they should.
Gina was my best friend in Northampton for many years before I had my Charlotte, but after that, she became my lifeline. My lifeline. She was the only person I could call when I was really, really sad, the only person who I could just bawl uncontrollably with, the only person who I felt really, honestly felt the same pain I did. For whatever reason I never felt self conscious with her and, unlike with my family members, I never felt worried about making her sad. I could just be. Gina's support was unparalleled, and in many, many ways, she held our heads above water when nobody else could.
Gina continued to hold us through Liam's birth. She was the first one at the hospital to hold him, she knit him things, brought us food, and mothered him along with us. Even though I had officially moved into the category of active mother and she was still childless, our friendship was never affected. Not one little bit. She loved my son unconditionally, and actually loved the stories and cute things and showed off for me to his friends. Could anything make you love a friend more?
And now, blessed now, we have two little girls the same age, growing up together, coerced into being best friends like their mothers.
Sometimes I think I love Gina so much that I don't even realize how important she is to me. She is woven into the tapestry of my life in such a deep and comprehensive way that I don't even remember that she is someone that I have to stop to appreciate. Being friends with her takes no effort or work. She is easy, she is lovely, she laughs, she cries.
Gina and I are very similar. We are both super-sensitive, both eldest daughters, both slightly perfectionist and wanting to please and placate. This is why it is, perhaps, a good idea for Gina not to read this blog, because if I am speaking from the depths of my id, I might say something that might hurt her feelings or ruffle her feathers, and that's not right. I care too much about her to do that.
But the underlying truth, beyond all of that, besides anything I might say, is that I love Gina more than practically anyone, she is indescribably important to me and I need her in most every way, in every part of my life. She is one of few people that I literally do not know what I would do without.
So here's to you, Gina, to thank you for your beautiful friendship, to emphasize once again how you saved my life after Charlotte died, to thank you for loving my children, and to hope that the future of our friendship is as wonderful as it is right now.
You can stop reading the blog, if you want. I'll tell you if there's something great for you to check on. And you should know? There's not much in there to worry about. All I'm ever really thinking about you and not saying is how grateful I am to have you and how I don't know what I would do without you. I don't care which goddam diapers you use. I love you to the moon and back.
How many people are lucky enough to have a friend like Gina?

2 comments:

Becky said...

I do. And I feel blessed every day because of it.

I'm glad that you have such a wonderful friend.

erica said...

I'm a friend of Erin's and was also a teaching fellow at that prestigious women's college. I think we were in a prenatal yoga class together once, too. What year were you there? I was there 1997-98. I wonder if I know which teacher your friend Gina taught with. Sounds like the one I taught with... I lost a baby in my second trimester, and have lots of guilt about recently starting to use disposable diapers- but it's my fourth baby, so my husband says I should just get over already. Anyway, small world...