Monday, December 14, 2009
dear best friend,
Alyssa and I met my sophomore year of college during summer theater. Back in those days nobody in the theater department at my college would cast for me for anything and I frequently got pulled into the offices of well-meaning professors telling me to choose another profession. I came across as shy and uncertain, they were looking for "star quality" and were fairly confident I'd never make it as an actor. But that's a blog for some other time.
Alyssa's father was my professor and and the only one who ever believed in me, for which I'm still utterly grateful, and his daughter was dutifully volunteering for ushering or concessions or whatever odd job he'd talked her into. I saw her out the window, this girl, and I sort of fell in love right there on the spot. I don't know any other way to say it, but sometimes when you meet someone you know almost immediately that you want that person in your life for the rest of it and you want to get started as soon as possible, and I saw Alyssa outside that window and I knew her. I can't explain, but when we finally said hi to each other it wasn't a "nice to meet you" greeting, it was a "I know you! I've known you before and I'll know you again and thank god we found each other this time around because we've got twenty-plus years to catch up on!" kind of greeting. Luckily, Alyssa felt the exact same way.
So we became best friends, right there on the spot. And we have remained so ever since; we have never stopped laughing and talking and emailing and phoning and texting and being bluntly honest and having life-changing conversations at 2 am and crying in each other's arms when life sucks and having each others' backs when the shit hits the fan. There aren't too many days that go by where I am not completely and wholly thankful to the universe for bringing us together for yet another life to share.
And right now, my best friend is hurting, and there is not much I can do about it. First and foremost, Alyssa works for one of the most renowned Shakespeare companies in the United States for the pure love of it - finances are tight and she is paid a very small stipend on a weekly basis while working up to 18 hour days through the week and weekend to help get shows off the ground. A lot of the time, Alyssa is going out into schools in Massachusetts and directing kids in Shakespeare productions. It's a huge emotional reward with not a lot of monetary payoff, as theaters are hurting right now financially.
Here's the other thing: Alyssa is in love. With a wonderful, adorable elf-like girl named Liz who might even be able to quote Buffy better than I do, and unfortunately Liz lives in Canada. And all Alyssa wants, as Alyssa's family is spending the holiday in London without her, is to be able to spend Christmas in Canada with the girl she loves.
So she asked her friends who were going to get her Christmas gifts to instead contribute to a "Christmas in Canada" fund so she can afford to buy a plane ticket, and I convinced her to set up a paypal account. And I've been trying desperately to get my friends and family and everyone I've ever met to contribute as well, even if it's just $5, because it might not seem like $5 goes a long way, but when ten people decide to contribute $5, trust me. It goes a long way.
And on top of everything else, I just found out that Alyssa had to put the family dog, Lady, to sleep last week (you can read Alyssa's incredibly heartfelt posts about it here and here). Lady, the family dog of fifteen years, was recently diagnosed with lymph node cancer, and her body had been showing signs of slowing down and functioning less and less.
So here's my letter to my best friend.
dear best friend,
I love you. I hate feeling powerless when I see you hurting, when I see you missing the ones you love and grieving, knowing that there is not much that I can say or do to fix any of it. I'm not always really good at not wanting to fix it and I feel bad that I don't live closer so that I can't come and pick you up and take you out for a bacon cheeseburger and a strong hot chocolate. I wish I could promise that you'll get to see your girl on Christmas Day, or that I know that things are going to be alright, or that I know that one day you'll see Lady again, but we both know I can't promise those things.
What I can tell you, and promise you, is that you are loved, so incredibly fiercely, by your best friend up in LA, and I'm never going to stop trying to show you how much I adore you or trying to help you have the best life possible, because yes, it is what you deserve. You deserve so much happiness after everything you do and give to others. And I am so proud to be your friend, to know you and have your back and know that you adore me and have my back. It means the world to me.
your best friend Tracy.
UPDATE: See Alyssa's comment below (she's Radical Bradical). Whether you donated money or simply offered your amazing kindness and support of this post, I thank each and every one of you - you helped send my best friend to Canada with your love. It's all about you, guys :) And I am humbled and grateful beyond words to know each of you.