First, we got to see Brandi Carlile Sunday night. It was so beautiful.
Anyone who knows me knows I’ve had the same best friend since I was 6. When we were younger, she was tiny. I was not, having hit my growth spurt early on. We used to play football in my backyard and she’d inevitably go flying to the ground as I had a major advantage in size and leverage. My mom used to tell me to be nice, because someday she’d outgrow me. She was always a tough kid.
And, she eventually did outgrow me. But we still horsed around and always encouraged each other. Growing up in a small town meant we had the same classes together, right through high school. We competed against each other in our local softball league. I hit my best homerun ever off a pitch she threw. But she was always the better athlete.
Though we didn’t go to the same college, we weren’t that far apart. She came to see Ani DiFranco where I went to school, I went to see 3rd Eye Blind and … some other band of that era (Smashmouth, maybe?) at her school. We stayed in close touch. As reality goes, some shitty things happened and she ended up with some serious health issues. I thought I might lose her. I almost did, several times. But she pulled through, though had to give the school gig a break. She stayed brave and strong, working her ass off, always, coming out even though at the time that was NOT a popular thing to do. Dealt with the harassment, stayed tough as nails.
After I finished school, I moved to Boston. She and her then girlfriend visited, then moved to Austin, Texas. Their relationship was tumultuous to say the least, and eventually ended. By the time I made it down for a visit, she was dating someone else, who is now her wife. She rocks too. For a while, my BFF did triathlons, worked 2 jobs and was always on the go. She eventually went back to school, became a nurse and works in a cardiac trauma unit.
Why she’s a hero, if you haven’t already figured it out, is that she’s irrepressible. ALIVE. No matter what turns life has taken, and it’s taken a few, I can always count on her to gut it out and keep going, keep getting stronger, braver, wiser, smarter. She’s a beacon of hope and joy. And a hardened realist. And probably hiking solo across some desert or mountain range in the southwest. I love that woman.