Our friendship began in 1989. I was fourteen. We were nothing alike, and the spark of our relationship began with a playful car theft. I say playful because we warned the boy whose car we were going to steal that we were, in fact, going to steal his car. He drove a yellow mustang. We were bored. Bored girls with access to the keys of a yellow mustang leads to car theft. We returned the car with no damage, and the beginning of a friendship thoroughly cemented.
I knew I loved her then. I just had no point of reference to explain how I loved her.
My mother didn't trust her from the beginning. She was a few years older than me, sported blond bleached hair and wore bright red lipstick. I remember my mother saying to me, "She's too old for you to be hanging out with. She's too fast. She will lead you down the path of ruin." I didn't know if it was true or not, but I was pretty steadfast in being led down that exact path if it meant following her.
We spent the next couple of years cultivating a friendship that would reveal she is a realist. I am a dreamer. She embraces the present while I reach for the future. She is tough while I am soft hearted. She has an ornery streak, and I bring the laughter. For every personality difference we have, we are equally different in appearance. She's blond haired, and blue eyed. My hair is nearly black, and my eyes aren't far behind. She's a short stack. I bump my head on clouds. In most ways, we are different.
As often happens, life led us in different directions. I moved to the state of Washington, while she settled down and married. I always assumed I would marry, too, but I didn't. I would come close a couple of times, but my heart could never settle into the idea of forever. I thought it was because I was too young, or too busy chasing dreams, or noticed red flags in relationships. I didn't realize I had already found whom I wanted to be in my life on a daily basis.
In my early twenties, I found myself homeless. I wish I could blame it on misfortune or bad luck, but truly, it was the consequence of ignoring problems within myself. By this time I had moved to Phoenix, AZ. I let my mental health deteriorate until I was no longer rational. One by one, the decisions I made led me to life on the streets. But I was lucky. I found a shelter that took me in, and a group of people there who helped me lay the ground work to get back on my feet. And let me tell you, when you've lost everything, and gain something of a life back, you start being extremely honest with yourself and you begin to act with a renewed urgency. And if you're me, you call her. And if you are her, you welcome the call.
One phone call led to daily contact. Our conversations would last well into the late hours of the night. We shared life's joys as well as disappointments. I shared my slow descent into craziness, and she shared her imprisonment in a marriage that was loveless. Then one day, without considering the details of what it would entail, I volunteered I was coming home. I was going to pack up my things, and move back to Oklahoma. When we hung up from the conversation, I had no idea how I was going to make that move happen, or why I even wanted the move to happen. I just knew it was time to go home. And I wondered if it was because I loved her.
There are more stories to be told, more bridges to cover the gap transforming a friendship that becomes something more. But for now, in this very moment, no matter the journey it took to get here, or the journey left to unfold I know these two things: She loves me. And I love her.
This is me stepping out into the unknown. This is me testing the waters. This is me coming to terms with a reality I must have known all along. This is me risking so little to an internet full of strangers, yet by removing a mask to myself, feeling as if I am risking everything.
I am a woman. I am a woman from a very conservative, very religious background. I am a woman who cannot ignore the truth within. I am not ashamed. I am not broken. I am not going through a phase. I am not defying God. I am not defying man. I am only loving. It is such a simple word, this word, love. It is peaceful, hopeful, exhilarating, calming, challenging and comforting. It is everything hate is not. I'd much rather love.
And I love her.