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Kathy Bradley

Friends find joy in one another

    “You need to come to Indianapolis,” the voice on the other end of the telephone announced with such assurance that it didn’t occur to me to question it. Barry is a salesman, a car salesman, born to the breed. He is a hard person to contradict.
    “You need to have some fun and I can promise you that we’ll give you some fun. So, when are you coming?”
    I hesitated. Taken off guard, I mumbled a few words that neither of us understood.
    “You can’t tell me no. I am not a person that someone can say no to. You’re going to come. You just tell me when.”
    “Let me check my calendar. I’ll call you back.”
    Two weeks later Barry called me again. “You didn’t call me back,” he said matter-of-factly. “So when are you coming?”
    As I said, Barry is tenacious. And he loves his wife. Though she is very happy in Indiana after living there for nearly 16 years, he recognizes that it can’t hurt to continue to express his gratitude for the fact that she packed up and left Georgia, two toddlers in tow, to settle in a place where Easter outfits include overcoats.
    Barry also loves surprises and he had decided that my visit would be a surprise. For three months we exchanged secret e-mail’s and telephone calls and on the Thursday afternoon before Martin Luther King Day, I found myself on a plane to Indianapolis by way of Cincinnati (whose airport, incidentally, is not located in Ohio, but Kentucky).
    My plane from Savannah to Cincinnati was delayed an hour. I called Barry. He was completely nonplused by the fact that his list of lies about why he would be getting home late would now need to grow by at least one. “I’ve got a plan,” he told me and I laughed. It’s hard not to laugh at Barry.
    I finally got to Indianapolis at 10 o’clock. Barry and I hadn’t seen each other in 15 years and I was wondering if we’d recognize each other. I rounded the corner and there he was. His hair was grayer, mine was longer. Otherwise we looked about the same. It probably helped that at that hour the airport was virtually empty and there weren’t that many passengers/people waiting from which the two of us had to choose.
    “This is the plan,” he told me. “I got an empty pizza box last night. I’m going to call Sandra and tell her that I’m ordering pizza. When we get home, I’ll go inside and then you can go to the front door with the pizza box and ring the doorbell.”
    It went off without a hitch. One of those I-wish-I’d-had-a-camera moments. And the look on Sandra’s face was worth the delay, worth the earache I always get as the plane descends, worth all of Barry’s lies, for which he was immediately forgiven.
    And I did have fun.
    It didn’t surprise me really, but time and distance have a way of eroding things and anyone with any amount of living behind her knows that not everything lasts.
    Sandra and I met when we were 10 years old. We have never lived in the same town. We have never spent more than five consecutive days in the same town. Except for the fact that we both love to talk better than just about anything, our personalities are near-polar opposites. Sandra is spontaneous; I am deliberate. Sandra is self-effacing; I am self-critical. Sandra is blonde; I am not. And, yet, somehow over nearly 40 years we have remained friends. We have lasted.
    What a comfort. What a joy. What a gift.

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