There are times when you can predict the entirety of a phone conversation with just the first few words. Last night was like that…
“Hi, [Sodium]? It’s Ali’s husband…”
Five words and I knew I would be attending a hospital bed or a funeral service.
One of my (many) failings is that I’m rubbish at keeping track of friends. Once I stop seeing people on an enforced regular basis, I always lose track of them. I left school and instantly lost touch of everyone. I stopped work to go to Uni and I lost track of all but one person (they lasted another 5 years before we lost touch).
The internet helped with a lot of this because the contact was suddenly everywhere – no matter where you are, you are still a part of the same world as your friends.
Ali was the first of these friends.
I met Ali in my first year of Uni when I bumped into someone equally insanely talkative on some MUD or talker server somewhere. That was a long time ago – long enough ago that Ali wasn’t even Ali back then. She was “EJP”.
She had a seriously fucked up childhood (understatement of the week) and decided that a part of escaping the past was reinventing herself. I spent 3 days chatting with her on IM, bouncing names back and forth as she tried combinations of first and last names that worked for her. In the end, I think that I was responsible for suggesting 3/4 of her name.
I remember where I was on 9/11… I was sat in a pub with her, trying (and failing) to look after her following a particularly shitty medical appointment. It was 24 hours later that I finally discovered that the other pub patrons weren’t watching a very boring action movie on their huge screen TV. While other people were digesting the horrors of a terrorist attack, I was staring at the inside of my friend’s arm, wondering where she’s had the razor blade stashed.
On more than one occasion, I ended up “playing” a game in the hospital bedroom she temporarily residing, where we both tried to identify as many sharp/dangerous objects as possible. And every time, I waited until I was an hour away and then phoned the staff with a list of the things she’d identified. The last time we played it, she realised what I was doing and threatened to kill me in novel and interesting ways. But she did it with a smile on her face so she was probably mostly joking.
She irritated the hell out of me by tending to only make contact when she was in hospital and bored – but she made contact, which is better than I normally do. More importantly, I knew that if I needed her, I could always find her – and I hope her hospital text messages meant she knew the reverse was true…
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