I’ll Be There For You (Cause You’re There For Me Too)

Want someone to light up? Ask them about the people they love.

I do that in Blu tonight.

Chelsea and Lexi are the kind of friends who gush about each other in the most endearing way. They’ve been friends for only two years but both immediately say it feels like much longer, because they’ve slipped into a pattern of easy closeness that is built on ritual watching of the movie “About Time” every two months through tears, letters handwritten in gorgeous script and then mailed or tucked under windshield wipers on disappointing days, and mutual love of flower arranging. (Really, these two are adorable. I could very easily gush over them, gushing over each other.)

Lexi is getting married next weekend, and Chelsea will be a bridesmaid. Lexi’s fiancée, Alex, languished in the “friend zone” for NINE YEARS (!!), not dating a single other person while he waited to see if Lexi might get around to falling in love with him. I want to interview him and title it something admiring like, “An Unbelievable Story of Bewildering Persistence”, because very few men have the guts to settle down in the friend zone, forsaking all others, and then somehow manage to scrabble out and end up married. (We should all head to their wedding this weekend to just slow clap Alex and his steadfastness.)

Lexi says her favorite thing about Chelsea is her genuine honesty, how she isn’t afraid to voice her real thoughts and trusts that the friendship is sturdy enough to not buckle underneath.

Chelsea tells of Lexi’s deep thoughtfulness. Lexi has a key to Chelsea’s apartment and once she let herself in to take care of a dead succulent. Who wouldn’t look for that kind of tenderness in a friend?

Haley and Brian say they had to show their friend Bobby, who is here visiting from Iowa, the majesty that is the Blu skyline during his weekend visit to Milwaukee.


Brian and Haley have been married since August, and decide their favorite part of marriage so far is having “constant adventures together”. These two are high school sweethearts, but actually crossed paths far earlier—after they began dating, Haley randomly found a photo of her first communion in second grade and recognized Brian standing next to her, though they’d had no idea they’d known each other back then. She laughingly tells me that in the photo, little Brian is leaning away from her in the photo, suspicious of girls. They displayed the photo at their wedding.

Another love story here tonight, less gushy than the others but still longstanding and true, is the friendship between Bobby and Brian. They have been friends since first grade, and credit the obnoxious YouTube videos they made together in someone’s basement as middle schoolers as the glue that held them together through the years. Somehow one of these videos, a parody of the song “Roxanne”, has racked up an impressive 33,000 views. They are the first to express amazement that this video has any views at all, and tell me that they plan to show it to their future children to embarrass them.

And Angela tells me about her utterly loyal friends, who invite her to their homes for Thanksgiving and Christmas since she lost her husband two and a half years ago.

She recently took a class to learn how to paint silk scarves, and on Mother’s Day, since her own mother is gone and she isn’t a mother herself, Angela brought the three scarves she’d painted to her friend Pam’s house. She told Pam that she is “the model mother so many women should be” and asked her to choose a scarf as a gift.

“She actually picked the one I liked the best. And I was glad.”

In this simple story, I see Angela herself living out what she told me earlier means the most to her in a friend: going out on a limb to be kind.

Delighted, I’m Sure

The Pfister lobby this afternoon is gilded, gleaming and oh-so-peaceful. I’m beginning my year as Narrator, which is so thrilling I can just feel life cracking open before me.

A few things from my “real life”, which is usually distinctly less gleaming than this moment, are conspicuously absent in this magnificent place. I have two, yes two, sets of twins. Four children under four, one set identical and one fraternal, “double-double” as they like to call themselves…however you explain them, they are adorable, exhausting, messy, sweet, and very loud.

Though of course I love my children so deeply they are in my every sinew, I’m also delighted that they aren’t here right now. Not a single person in this lobby has gulped my drink without asking or needed my help to go to the bathroom. See? Delightful!

Also delightful?

I’m not here to be a mommy; I’m here to write.

I’m here to soak in and breathe out story—true, harrowing, lovely.

I’m here to capture the Pfister and all of us who live, however briefly, inside these ornate walls, themselves thrumming with history.

I’m here to meet you and narrate your story. Already, on this first day with the year ahead still obscured like a gift, I feel so honored.

***********

Since beautiful things tend to come into my life in pairs, I’d like to introduce myself by way of twin bits of my own story.

Just in case you aren’t as familiar with twins as I am, and I’m well-aware that you’re likely breathing a sigh of relief about that right now, let me explain how twins are revealed.

You know, by now, that there is something your life possesses now that it didn’t just a short, already blurred, while ago. You don’t know that thing is an “A”yet, the first in a series with others trailing along behind it. To you, “A” alone is enough to flood the whole world with expectation and excitement. And then you are told, in a moment that splits life into a “before” and an “after”, that there is also a “B”. And suddenly, in shock and awe and fear and trembling, you intuitively know that A and B are so bound up with one another that in some crucial way, they are as intimate and intwined as anything in life can be. They are twins.

So, dear readers, to say “hello” and “let’s begin” and “Isn’t this so wonderful?”, I give you a small, but not inconsequential, Twin A and Twin B from the part of my story where I am a writer:

A: As a little girl, bored in the sticky summer heat, I’d often ask my mother to give me three words that didn’t fit together at all, like lobster, toenail, and skydiving. I’d while away the day (just as delighted as I am this afternoon), writing a story that featured all of the words. The fact that my delight in writing could also birth delight in my mother as she read the story was half the fun.

B: As an adult, I’m sitting at the Pfister now, fingers tapping out this satisfying flurry of words, words that have been my lifelong friends, and now I somehow get to be a writer, for and with you. Ta-Da! I want to bellow to that little girl I was, your love of story will morph all your life, and one of the destinations will be the Pfister, a glorious trove of story.

So here I am, your Narrator. Please come meet with me in the lobby or Blu or under one of those ridiculously entrancing chandeliers this place is teeming with, and let’s spin out the richness of your story.

I can’t wait.