Most of my bestest friends are from high school; although I have formed strong relationships with other friends that I haven't known as long, there is a special bond that exists with those from that period of time. In particular, I formed serious bonds with a group of female friends that I internally refer to as "my girls" (you know who you are - and how awesome you all are).
However, there is one girl from this group that I lost touch with over the last few years, a fact that has been a constant source of confusion, stress and regret. None of these women live in Chicago anymore, but despite the distance between us, we have managed to keep in touch on a regular basis. Perhaps it's because this one woman in particular lives all the way in Alaska, we have not been in such constant contact. Although that's not the only reason.
One day, years ago I got a panicky phone call from this one woman's sister, saying there had been an "accident". Naturally, I freaked the FUCK right out, but I was assured that everything would be OK. Here's a bit of background.
My friend, let's call her Pam (Note to Gloria, was that an odd choice?) had been living in Alaska for a few years. Her older brother (who in fact is a good friend of my older brother) got a job captaining a whale watching boat for the summer, delivering a slice of "authentic" wilderness to rich tourists. He hired his little sister Pam as a deckhand on his boat...
One day, they were in the process of docking said boat; one of Pam's duties was to throw the lines to anchor the boat to the pier. On this fateful day the waters were a bit rough, and well, Pam fell and got pinned between the hull of the boat and a pylon. I'll spare you the HORRIFIC fucking details and the extent of her injuries, but they were serious, as I am sure you can imagine.
Thank God she wasn't paralyzed or worse; still, this unfortunate accident precipitated a slow decline in her mental state of mind, and being 8 million miles from home, in a land where the sun barely comes up for months and months at a time...well, I think she handled it better than I would have.
Still, after the accident she seemed to cut herself off from her friends, myself included. Calls and e-mails went ignored and it seemed that no one had any idea how she was doing. I wasn't alone in stopping after months and months of trying to communicate with Pam, but I didn't give up hope.
[Ed note: Here's the happy ending to this story] A few weeks ago I was speaking with a mutual friend of Pam's and mine. On a lark I asked this friend if she still had a phone number for Pam. She did, and as soon as we hung up, I took a deep breath and dialed her up, not thinking anything would come of it...well, on the second ring she picked up!
Oh man, that's THE phone call of the year for me. Not only was it so GREAT to hear her voice, I heard another voice, in the form of her newborn daughter sitting in her lap as we spoke. Any awkwardness of us not having spoke in years was quickly dissipated by our mutual happiness just be talking again and to be able to catch up.
Oh, and a great thing about having a friend living that far out west, is that I can drunk dial her at 2AM, like I did last night, and be able to talk with her about nothing in particular. Just shoot the shit for a awhile. And then today I got an e-mail from Pam with this line "I miss you Justin, I almost called you right back after we hung up just to tell you how happy I was to talk to you."
AWWWW! Man, I miss the shit out of her right now. Had I the means to buy an insanely expensive airline ticket, I'd have already made plans to be in Juneau in 2 months time. As it stands, she'll be back in Chicago by July, with her husband and daughter in tow. I can't wait.
PS - To my other GIRLS - I can't wait to see you all soon, one in particular next week!