Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Flight

I had three ideas I was sure would work. First, I could barricade her into my flat. Second, I could barricade her out of my flat. Third, I could hide her Green Card. Once I realised that I'd not quite got the heart or the neurosis to put any of these plans into practice, I knew I'd have to resort to other tactics.
     Jo was of course leaving for Seattle in the early hours of this morning, after five weeks in England, and the last eight nights staying in my flat. The bestest friend I could ever hope to have - after eleven years of love passing between us, five years of living together. I can't remember a single row we've had in that time, or a time I didn't trust her implicitly. My family, my sister, my confidante, my spiritual ally. And she was sodding off back to Seattle forever.
     I decided "I shall be a rock, impervious to all emotion." I certainly wasn't going to be reduced to a blubbering mess. We had only one hour left before bedtime so my plan didn't seem too ambitious. I ensured that my Itunes played no music with an acoustic guitar in it or worse, a harp. Then I sat like a wooden post at the end of my sofa, pondering whether to just put on Eastenders and pretend she wasn't there. I even considered informing her that I couldn't get upset for health reasons. Since my recent discovery of two frown lines on my forehead, any kind of emotional stimulus that worsened them would be quite out of the question.
     Then she cuddled me. The cow. We squawked like two chicks in a nest, tears flying out from our eyes and landing on each other. Tissues streamed between us like great, soggy clouds. I knew it was too late to lock her in my cupboard. Jo, my loveliest of all Jos, was flying the coop.
     She left at 4.30 am, as I hunched in my bed feeling a strange ache in my chest. I pulled up the duvet as she scuttled round in the hallway outside my door, collecting up her things. Then I flung it open and we hugged, my eyes stuck together with tiredness, my hair no doubt standing on end.
     Now there's a Jo-shaped hole in my living-room, but I'm imagining her winging her way across the ocean as I write this, towards her new life. It's a beautiful image. And I got a chance to say goodbye this time, to wave her off, to wish her well, and hear her close the door behind her.
     Never underestimate the preciousness of true friendship. It's like family - it runs in the blood, it is a tract that crosses all land and sea, returning home, again and again, no matter the miles.

A couple of nights ago we watched Lars and the Real Girl. They played this Talking Heads song in it, and it's one of my favourites. So this is for Jo. It's nicely weird, especially towards the end.


streamsandpools said...

Oh my sweet Clare. What a wonderful post and a wonderful, sad, poignant, hilarious description of our last evening. I read it in San Francisco Airport, waiting for my flight to Seattle and it made me laugh and cry all at once. I love you so much.

Boo said...

Aw. Now I am crying.
It's so hard to leave these we love.
I still ache every day from how much I miss my friends in Seattle. It's a hole that doesn't seem to get patched up.

Much love to you sweet Claire and yay for you for honoring your feelings in all this.

berenice said...

ah wonderful words for a strong friendship, you are such a great writer clare
"Tissues streamed between us like great, soggy clouds". one of my favorite sentences amongst your brilliance

and true friendships do prevail, i moved from Mexico City to California almost 10 years ago and i still keep my old friends, sometimes we go months without writing or calling, the brighter times we are in touch... but at the end of the night, i know my true friends, even if distant, are intact there, hope you two keep those links always strong

and if you come to Seattle to visit her, jump south the American West Coast, remember you have a place where to stay in San Diego! :)