For the next four Tuesdays, I will be sharing the story of my friendship with P. and the ways she continues to affect and even haunt me, now that she is gone. Because her story is one of pain and sadness, I will protect her identity by simply calling her P.
Part One—Meeting and Becoming Friends with P.
While extroverts seem to collect friends the way others collect baseball cards, when you are an introvert as I am, you tend to rely on a few very close friends.
Isolated in Ann Arbor
I made many of my close friends when I transferred to the University of Michigan when I was 21. I transferred in January, which made finding housing difficult.
I ended up living in an apartment with two male Ph.D. political science students; one was a Democrat and one was a Republican, so every night they fought debated while watching the MacNeil News Hour on PBS. Both were 10 years older than me, and I felt very isolated.
Joining a Hippie Commune–Not!
A year later, I left the political fights behind me and moved into one of the many co-ops on campus. The co-op I lived in was comprised of two large houses right next to each other; 50 of us lived there, and though it sounds very much like a hippy commune, it really wasn’t. We just all worked together doing chores to reduce the cost of living, which was important in a place as expensive as Ann Arbor.
Each of us had a job we had to complete 3 hours a week, and in return we got reduced room and board. My job was to cook with one other person, Scott, on Tuesday nights. We cooked for 3 hours to feed our fellow 48 house members. I found that time relaxing, and Scott and I prided ourselves on having one of the most popular dinner nights because people liked our meals. I think that weekly chore sparked my love of cooking.
The first person I met there was a girl my age who I will call P. She showed me around the co-op, and we quickly became friends.
She had thick, curly, unruly hair like mine, and she wore long, baggy skirts and boxy t-shirts. In many ways she looked like she was trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. She had a quiet demeanor, but she had a biting sense of humor and also knew how to have fun. She shared my love of songs with deep lyrics as well as my love of reading. We both had brothers several years younger than us, and both of our mothers got stressed driving in traffic and travelling outside of their comfort zones.
We nursed each other through several heart aches, and after I graduated and moved back home, I sometimes drove two hours to Ann Arbor just to see her and have lunch. She was understanding, non-judgmental and a great listener.
When I got married, she was one of my four bridesmaids.
To be continued next Tuesday. . .