My friends. My Besties.

There is a quiet pleasure in writing. On most days. I don’t suffer writers’ block, likely because I’m so familiar with my subject. Since I’ve written a memoir, my subject is me. The thrill is the discovery of who I am and what I really think of that person. That person is in many ways mysterious to me. Peeling back the layers of my persona gets to the person so cleverly shrouded within.

I am so out front that no one knows I’m really shy. When I expose that, the room explodes in laughter and disbelief. Just tells you how hard I work to keep it hidden. I am not shy about speaking my mind. I wear red lipstick. I don’t hesitate in disagreements and arguments. I speak up, much to the chagrin of those who think doing that is cringe worthy.  Hey. Life is short. While I have come to terms with the knowledge that it is not an absolute requirement to say everything that is on my mind, most folks never dream that what I let out into the air is, in fact, edited. That is a two-edged sword in that people don’t always like what is on my mind, and they are the same ones who, when afraid to take a verbal stand, ask me to do it. That Barbara, she’ll say anything. Send her. She’s a great messenger. After a lifetime of putting my neck on the block for potshots, etc., now I charge for it.

You could say that, verbally, I am not risk averse. I admit that this can be expensive, living the what you see/hear is what you get life style.

But underneath, I’m like most everyone else. I just live life out loud. Noisily, even. Irreverent. I choose my friends based on who can and will accept a full-blown personality. They don’t scare easily. Someone said, at a funeral, Barbie, you are more alive than most people. You live out in the open. Life is an exhilarating experience for you. Heads up: I thought everyone found life to be like that. Guess not, and there is the surprise for me: not everyone does. Exuberance is not everyone’s cup of tea. Exuberance can be very wearing on low key folks. An adult who finds his pace at the level of contemplative finds my type almost disruptive. Like, some sleep  through the whole night never disturbing the covers. Others, like me, wreck the whole bed. I could even see that as a child sleeping in a dormitory in an orphanage.  Everyone always knew which was my bed. Total portrait of me.

It takes all kinds, doesn’t it. My kind can suck the air out of a room. So let me tell you about Grace, gone at the age of 44, but what a gas those 44 years were. Grace was electric. The air around her shimmered. When she arrived at a party you knew before you saw her that she was somewhere in the house. The whole space altered when she was present. Present. Yes. Grace was a presence that didn’t stay embodied. Her energy made mine seem passive. Together we’d own a place but no one doubted who was second banana. Looking back, I know Grace was a cliff walker, always out on the edge simply because that was more exciting. She was the most alive person I ever knew. She left the planet thirty three years ago and I recall the sound of her laughter with ease. She’s still in the room! Some thought her an irritation. I thought she was a trip. So when she called I came. The day would be riotous, creative, a bit daring. I never turned her down. Grace was incandescent. A firecracker. A bonfire. Can you believe it, I still miss her. One of a kind, knew it, capitalized on it, and to her I was drawn like a moth to a flame. She’d be the one who would skid into heaven screaming, woo hoo, what a ride!

I have friends today who are close duplicates. a touch less electric but equally fun, filling my life with the excitement of their presence. They are balanced by a small number of the cool, controlled ones, those who keep me from going off the rails. Those who calm my soul, sooth my tempests, coax me back to sanity. They all “grace” my life and I will love them each with the passion of healthy friendship until all my days are spent. I’m rich with good friends.

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