Friday, July 10, 2009

My Dear Dear Dear Dear Dear Dear Friend

Catherine the Beautiful, inside and out.

We were just leaving her place in Saskatoon, both of us in the driver's seat of our vehicles, when we pulled up together at a red light. It reminded me of a time many many years ago in Regina, when she'd been a passenger in my olive green Toyota Corona and we'd stopped behind another vehicle waiting at a light. A young gentleman slowing to a stop alongside us was staring so admiringly at Cathy, his head swiveled our way, that he bumped into the rear of the car in front of him. There was no damage, but the man looked pretty embarrassed.

Cathy and I have known each other for more than 35 years. Whoa. We went from neighbours in the girls' dormitory at Luther College high school in Regina, to roommates in two small apartments in Saskatoon, and then never shared a dwelling again but she has always made me welcome in her home. I even have my own key.

One of our few disagreements— this was in our younger and more silly days— was over the correct way to cut up leftover boiled potatoes for frying. Our mothers each had a different method. We chuckle over it now, but I read in a book that this is the exact argument that monks sharing quarters often have in the kitchen. Imagine that.

Our little spats never lasted long because one of us —probably Cathy, the more sensible of we two— would simply open her arms to the other, and any hard feelings would disappear. That simple act has been an important lesson to me and I thank her for it: we can get past a good number of our problems with others if we drop our attack stances and defences and allow ourselves to be vulnerable and approachable instead. We don't have to be tough and hard, and actually, I don't think any of us really are. We just pretend to be.