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Feb 9!

Today is my friend Sarah's birthday. Imperious under normal circumstances, Sarah becomes positively imperial when February 9 rolls around. She regards her birthday with the same sense of divine right that most women reserve for their wedding. Many women expect to be queen for a day but once. Sarah, bless her heart, dons the tiara annually—she's just that fabulous.

Sarah is not afraid of a manual transmission.I miss Sarah, a lot. She's really the only close girlfriend I've made since leaving college. We worked at the same used bookstore in North Carolina, but, ironically, we didn't really become tight until she moved away for awhile. We wrote letters, and when she came back we started hanging out, and then we were friends.

I didn't much care for Sarah when we first met. I thought she was a bit much. But, by that point in my life, I knew that the women I find abrasive and impossible upon first meeting are often the ones I end up loving the most. So, I just waited, trying to stay out of her way until she won my heart. It has occurred to me, with the wisdom of age and experience, that these very same women may have the same first impression of me, that they have the same perverse attraction to the obnoxious as I do, but I have never asked.

I needed Sarah, desperately—more than I ever would have wanted her to know. I was new to North Carolina, with no one but my boyfriend—in school, busy and distracted—for company. She knew all the cool kids in town, so I could be social, if I chose, without much effort. My boyfriend was from my hometown, and, ultimately, a number of our old friends—all gents—relocated to Greensboro. Sarah fit right in. Like me, she enjoyed being the only gal in a group of guys, but, rather than competing in this setting, we combined our feminine powers. We were a double threat—bossy and a little bit scary, but charmingly so.

I cherish all my friends, but it's easier for me to quantify what Sarah has given me than it would be for others. For one thing, she encouraged me to start sewing, so I am forever free from the whims of fashion and the sorrows of shoddy clothing construction. She also taught me to be loud and demanding. I was hardly a shrinking violet before I met Sarah, but she instilled in me, by her example, a fearlessness that I had previously lacked. Finally, she gave me, as a going away present before I left North Carolina for Alaska, a paper puppet with her face. That gift was vintage Sarah—self-involved, well crafted, and a little bit weird. It was also beautiful, just like her.

Happy Birthday, Sarah.

February 9, 2004 | Permalink


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