Meet the cast: Linda

My younger sister. She was the middle child until Juan was born. Now she’s the one that’s married with children. She has beautiful children and a marriage that frequently rivals the soap opera plots of Mexican novelas. Her life isn’t boring simply because she refuses to live without drama. And she frequently brings the drama into my living room.

Meet the cast: Juan

My “baby” brother. He’s a thirty-something who’s at least six inches taller than I am and is built like a football player. My favorite sibling, he’s like me in too many ways to count. He’s the one person who can get me to do things even when I’m exhausted and beyond being nice. He’s married and going to college right now.

Meet the cast: Luis

The brother-in-law that pushes my buttons, and not in a good way. He can be a nice guy. He’s a good father. He’s married to Linda. Once upon a time, he was the spoiled oldest male child in a traditional Mexican family. He’s getting over that one day at a time, but making my sister’s plans go awry while that happens. If my sister changed husbands tomorrow I might not miss him.

best friend

My best friend called me tonight.

She lives in Atlanta and we usually communicate via email. She emails me from her work and I respond while at mine. It’s a system that has been fine-tuned over the past couple of years. We only talk to each other once every few months.

Tonight we actually talked.

Well, we took turns talking, anyway.

My best friend, we’ll call her Belle because I’m always joking that she’s a Southern Belle, is getting a certification in Spanish/English translation. She calls me whenever she has some serious homework due. I tease her about how her southern accent sounds when wrapped around Spanish words and she nags me about my lack of ‘entertainment.’

I wonder what her husband thinks about the fact that her favorite tutor is a one-hour long-distance phone call away?

Belle and I met my first quarter in college. We had French 101 together. I’d like to say, with that melancholic tone of voice preferred for these moments, that we became best friends instantly. Unfortunately, that would be a lie. We started to become friends over French 101 and became good friends over French 102. It was Political Science 101, however, that bound us for life. I think it had something to do with all that deep conversation at 2 a.m. study sessions. Or maybe it was just that we’d know each other for a while by then. Either way, we have been close ever since.

Belle and I have an easy kind of friendship I hope everyone gets to experience at least once in his or her life. It’s low maintenance and doesn’t require a lot of work. Because we are so far from each other, we tell each other the big stuff and gloss over the little things. Of course, sometimes we can have conversations that last hours and talk about nothing more than how her cats are doing and what my niece’s new word is.

I can tell her things I would never voice to anyone else. Things about sex and fears and lies and lives that would never, under any circumstances, make it anywhere near my family. I can tell her almost anything without the fear that she’s going to judge me harshly. I know that she will give me her sympathy and support. I know that she will kick my butt if I’m being stupid, but she will also talk me through the consequences. I know that she sees me, with my shortcomings and failures, and manages to see my successes and attributes.

I love Belle dearly.

I miss Belle a lot.

It’s been seven years since I moved from Atlanta to Houston and I’ve yet to make serious friends here. I’ve met lots of people, and have even become close with quite a few of them. But none of them have reached that special status where I wouldn’t hesitate before telling them something.

They’re not Belle.

In the years since I’ve been here she has come to visit me, I went to her graduation and then to her wedding. We took a trip to Jamaica together, before she even met her husband. Just last year we went to Florida for a long weekend and we left hubby in Atlanta. He doesn’t like the sand anyway. She has sent me job postings and found me a place to stay so that I can move back to Atlanta. (Her sister owns a townhouse and is willing to take me on as a roommate.) I’ll assume that means that she misses me too.

So we worked on her presentation for class and laughed and talked and worked some more. We actually got it done in under an hour, which has to be a record for us. Then we said goodbye for about five minutes, promising to email each other tomorrow.