Tuesday, November 27, 2012

She was. My friend. She is.

November 26, Hugo.

She was the last one.
The last one, the past I hadn't found, the last one in my jumble of memories and days gone, the last one the past and the one friend, the quirky soul mate of my dissipated youth, the sister I didn't have, maybe, or want, the warped wished-for mirror of my dreams.
She was the zany one, Zorha, she was my friend, my friend for those golden years of innocence long lost, childhood still clinging, the faint strong perfume of childhood still in secret rooms , secret crushes like little girls, giggles and fears, insecurities and bold looks, crazy hair and madder outfits, books for your true self, in love with the music and the musicians, the buskers of Paris circa 1986, and that cafe, Le Mazet, there was an article about it in The New York Times this winter, a girl spending her youth there the way we did who became a rather famous writer (a writer!), we were obsessively going to the movies, but mostly I went to the movies alone because I liked it better that way, years of enchantment savored later, but there was the music and no worries other than being a girl of twenty in Paris wishing she was pretty like Zorha and mesmerizing like Zorha, my wish mirror, my twin, my heart on my sleeve.
She had disappeared from my life the way she had come in, bolting, and in the years going by I looked her out but she remained elusive, someone had heard of her but that was a long time ago, the last time I saw her she was already a stranger and then she vanished, and then years of wondering, sometime, in the dark hours of the morning, where she was, how she was.
Why yesterday, one last time, turning on the computer late at night on an itch, and she appeared on the screen, the social media resurrection so common, yet such joy.
She was the zany light one and now here I am overwhelmed by raw admiration, not only for her professional achievements, she is a lecturer in American foreign policy at Kings College in London, but also for her strength in the face of a crushing illness, but then there is no surprise because she was a force of life always, her bursting youthfulness turned into iron will as she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at thirty-five, slapped blind out of an ordinary day, sitting down for dinner on the patio.  It may have cost her her marriage but she battled and raged on, and she is telling me about this on the phone after we found each other again and I can't speak, I am filled with awe, and thankful for such a woman to be back in my life, because there she is, a rare occurrence of a total remission from MS, after ten years of fighting and not resigning herself to the disease, raging on, ups and deep dark valleys, and I can't believe she is back for me, and how she could be all that, and my nineteen-year-old pal.
For she is nineteen, always will be, in my memory, the way time works when it stops, the way life works when you can't see it unfolding, she is nineteen and laughing and swinging her bag full of books and keys and scarves, her wrists full of bangles, her hair full of tangles, on the Paris cobblestones if my youth.
My youth gone, the longing creeping in, the idiot wheel of life, and Zorha, here at last, teaching me a lesson, her life lightning past my certitudes, and opening a well of gratitude for such valor.  We were nineteen and silly, we are middle-aged now and she is a testament of the possible and I am humbled, and giddily thankful, oh yes.


Zohra Ftaiti said...

My eyes are filled with tears, tears of emotion my sweet Valerie! I still can t find the words yet to describe how I truely feel after reading you. This is an amazing tribute to friendship,but for this, I will have to post another comment. Yes, because I need to speack out loud my love for you, my soul friend, the sister of my youth, you who just loved me the way I was.Yes no one else could genuinely see me the way you did and still do!Yours was with absolute friendship.Again sweetest, you were and always have been my soul friend and I am blessed indeed and thankful that you never stopped looking for me.
Yes, thanks to you, I feel 19 again, hopefully with a touch of wisdom, and I am determined to share with you what I can only share with a soul sister. Here's to you my Valerie

Susabelle said...

Finding old friends can be such a bittersweet experience. I'm glad you two connected once again!

Geraldine said...

From the first line I knew it wa Zhora! So happy you found her, so happy she is well. Your words moved me to tears, I remember I was there two. Young people today are so lucky, they don't loose touch with there friends. We were wanderers, but had to rely on letters and forwarding addresses. In my little village in the south of France I feel so privileged to have been part of that little group in Paris, so happy I can read you regularly Valérie, so proud. So guilty I don't write more, even though I have thought of you a lot recently, as I have gone back to uni to do a master and prepare the CAPES! I will write more and I am looking forward to a reunion in Paris, London or even New York!