My friend is moving away.
I write “my friend” as if she were my only one, an outrageous lie. I have so many friends, more than I deserve because I am often a lousy friend in return, but none of them is a friend in quite the same way Lacy has been.
We are not what I would describe as close friends, and we share no close friends in common, though I am well acquainted with those nearest to her and vice versa. We are more like people who meet through a support group, living in separate but connected circles on a Venn diagram. We share meals but not vacations. We share a neighborhood but not a social calendar. And like a support group friend, she arrived in my life exactly when I needed her.
Our first meeting came through my husband, who was part of the renovation crew working on Lacy’s home. We were all at a wedding together, and Bernard introduced us, saying that our boys were born just a few weeks apart. I learned that Lacy’s daughter shared the same birthdate as both my husband and my sister; Lacy shared the same birthdate as my closest childhood friend (and Farrah Fawcet, as Lacy informed me the first year I called to wish her a happy birthday). A few months after we met our boys became playmates at a parents’ day out program, and we became friends.
In the decade since, with an almost clinical detachment, we’ve hashed out life’s lightest and darkest struggles: Hanna Andersson tights, alcoholism, Volkswagen recalls, suicide, kids football, the corruption of yoga, aging parents, and why Donald J. Pliner thong sandals are worth $200. We’ve also talked extensively about food and cooking. It was Lacy who first introduced me to Michael Pollan and who advised me not to read In Defense of Food until my life allowed space for the changes I would probably want to make. The suggestion, as all others from her, came without judgment, competition, jealousy, challenge or pity. The lack of these things has, in fact, defined the entirety of our friendship. That, in itself, is remarkable between any two friends. Between two women, it is almost miraculous.
Some of my favorite dishes, vintage glassware, cookbooks and linens are gifts from Lacy. She introduced me to Marcella Hazan’s simple veal pasta recipe (an all-time favorite), the to-go platter option from Abyssinia, and Molton Brown hand soap. She planted an extensive garden, now kept by another friend and still guarded by Lacy’s garden owl, so I have asparagus and figs and herbs aplenty thanks to the woman who, like me, has hard-working man-sized hands unbecoming of a Southern lady and best used to dig in the dirt and carve out a legacy.
I have tangible memories everywhere of our 10 year, oddly connected, blessedly direct friendship. And when I look at any of them, this is what I will cherish:
The first time I walked into Lacy’s house, her old house, I was greeted by a photograph that reminded me of my own work – my old work, the things packed and taped and stored away. One day I would come back to them, I’d said to myself.
There were more photographs in Lacy’s kitchen, and we struck up a conversation about photography and cameras. A few months later she lent me her digital Nikon, and a few months after that I bought my own, the first camera I had purchased or used in more than a dozen years.
It’s possible I would have found my way back through another path, another opening. It’s equally possible that I would not.
Now with every glance at the vintage 1950s highball glasses that sit on the shelf in my kitchen, I see thousands of images, my new work, strung together in a never ending filmstrip that brings me back to me, thanks to a friend who simply opened a door for me to walk through.
I will miss her.