The day my mother died, I remember wanting to call only one person. Krissa. I’m not sure why or what I thought I might tell her, being that it had been so long since I had spoken to her, but some part of my being needed to reach out to the one person who truly understood my soul. I remembered three years before, when my mother’s best friend Diane died from cancer, my mother looked at me across her living room, tears pouring from her eyes, and said, “there’s no one left that understands me anymore.” And that is how I’ve always felt about Krissa.
Krissa and I met when I was 20, out at a bar in downtown Indianapolis. Because she got into a fight with her friend that brought her to the bar, she came home with me and spent the night. We stayed up late, drinking and listening to music and were instant best friends. Soul siblings! (For years we would tell people that we were brother and sister and we were related to John Gotti.) The next day, I took her to her car, an old white supra that barely started and she drove off to work, swearing to call me at the end of her work day.
The end of her work day ended almost an hour later, when the family she was a nanny, fired her, telling her it didn’t appear her heart was in the job anymore. And so began our journey together. For the next year, Krissa and I lived in a one bedroom apartment, sharing a bed, sharing our jokes, our tears, our stories, our lives…best friends bound by our souls. Even after I became involved with my first real boyfriend, the three of us moved into a two bedroom apartment on Teal Street and even though I was in a relationship, it was Krissa and I who would go to the library, stay up late and watch movies and run to the gas station for chips and salsa and orange slice candy…”you have to have something salty with something sweet.” She would say, and thus defined our friendship.
Krissa and I partied together, and she was there when I got sober. To this day, she is the only one who I know of who stood up to my father, yet he slammed the phone down on her when she demanded that he bring me cigarettes to treatment. Awww…well, she meant well. And she stayed loyal to my sobriety and always respected it as well…
She was and will always be…my dearest friend, even though not many people understood our friendship. And that doesn’t really matter, because it’s ours and no one else needs to understand it. But today, on a day when I’ve been listening to old music and thinking a lot about the past, I received an email from her out of the blue. “tell me the name of the weird vampire chick we used to know way back when-the one who called 911 on us at Scandia.(oh God, memories)” And that’s what we have, wonderful memories and maybe some not so wonderful ones too…but she will be forever, tightened around my heart, even though miles and oceans separate us now.
Last summer, an old friend of mine and I were talking about Krissa and he asked where she was and I said I thought she was in Berlin but I hadn’t talked to her in awhile. We started laughing about some of the trouble the two of us had gotten into and what a good friend she had been to me. We talked about how she had made decisions on her own and hadn’t allowed society, her family or her friends dictate what was or wasn’t important to her. “She lived a life. She definitely has lived a life.” He said, a we both laughed, thinking of what a wonderfully, kindred spirit she is. And I think, I’m just so much luckier for having had her in my life.
And hearing from her today has made me want to reach back into my back pocket a little bit and remember some of the people who have been so vital to my own growth. My dear friend Clara, for whom I wouldn’t be sober today if it hadn’t been for her. My friend Peggy who told me, when I was in the heat of my addiction, that the only way she could help me and be my friend, was by not being my friend. (This, important piece of wisdom I have shared with hundreds upon hundreds of people in treatment, therapy and recovery through the years. It is, by far, the number one thing that changed my outlook on my addiction, even is she doesn’t know it.) My adopted aunts, Vicki and Susie who gave me wondrous childhoods filled with politics, Pi Phi stories and pieces of Mockingbird summers. And to my cousin Caroline and my Aunt Kathy, who, well…have been my only family. A family so rich, that when I looked at my aunt, wearing her sunglasses as she walked behind my mother’s coffin into the church, took my hand and said, “come on, it’s time.” And they have all been there for me, and all share small hallways in the hotel of my heart.
And maybe, just maybe, all of us, should make such a list, although I’m sure I’m leaving many out…and remember, that it’s really the people, who save our souls and walk the walk, side by side…each step of the way…and really, really remember…because…
We’re on borrowed time as it is!