55: The Call

55: The Call

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls

The Call

In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.

~Bertrand Russell

I’ll never know why Linda pursued our improbable friendship with such determination and purpose, but I’m so happy she did. On the surface, we were two women unlikely to become best friends. Linda is talkative, animated, and buzzes from one topic to another like a pollinating bee. She is open and friendly and easy to know. Linda will stand in line at the grocery store and walk out ten minutes later with the phone numbers of three new friends. Conversely, I am a type-A personality who eschews buzzing in favor of to-do lists and set game plans; pleasant but private, I am not open with strangers.

On October 1, 1990, I started a new job. Linda had been employed with the company for several years. We were agreeable acquaintances at work, but not friends. She is a few years younger than I, and at the time I had already celebrated ten years of marriage and two children. Linda was a young divorcée with nothing but footloose-and-fancy-free weekends on her horizon. Considering the vast differences in our lifestyles, a friendship with her outside of the office was not on my list of things to pursue.

One Saturday morning the phone rang while I was busy house-cleaning. I ignored it at first, but the caller was persistent so I finally picked up, totally clueless as to who chattered on the other end of the wire. Whoever it was, she certainly talked fast.

“Excuse, me,” I said. “I’m sorry. Who is this?”

“It’s Linda.”

“Linda.” I racked my brain, but came up empty.

“From work.”

A Saturday morning call could mean only one thing, and that was trouble at the office. Had another coworker been in an accident? Did the building burn down? All the possible scenarios filled my mind.

“What’s happened? What’s wrong?” I dropped the dust rag on the table and sat down, bracing for bad news. “Is everyone okay?”

“Why wouldn’t they be? Did something happen?” she asked.

“Uh, not that I know of,” I said, baffled. “So… you’re calling why?”

“I just thought I’d see how your Saturday is going.”

“Do you need help with something?” I asked, still digging for a clue.

“Nope. I just called to say hi.”

We stayed on the phone about fifteen minutes. Linda asked general get-to-know-you questions and chatted about random topics. In the end, I sat puzzling over why this single, active young woman took time from her busy Saturday to jaw with the old married lady from the office.

After that call Linda and I grew a bit friendlier, often eating our bag lunches together and rolling our eyes over office shenanigans. I looked forward to Monday mornings when she would tell me all about her weekend — the single girl in the city — and we laughed together over some of the dud dates she endured. Still more coworkers than friends, she persisted in calling me outside of work “just to chat.”

One Friday night Linda suggested we hang out after work and share a pizza. My husband Joe offered to take care of the kids, so I agreed.

“Early night,” I promised him. “Linda’s a sweetheart, but we don’t have anything in common.”

Linda and I ordered a pizza and talked… and talked… and talked. I called home around 9:30 to apologize to Joe and tell him I’d be a little longer. When I looked at my watch again it was almost 2 a.m. As surprised as I was by the time, I was even more surprised to realize I enjoyed myself, laughing and swapping life stories with this young woman who was so different from me in so many ways.

Linda planted the seeds of friendship with that first Saturday morning call and watered them with strong persistence every day thereafter. That they bloomed into a glorious sisterhood is one of life’s miracles I will never understand but for which I am eternally grateful.

Our friendship has now spanned more than twenty years. We are still opposites in more ways than we are alike, but we’re such good friends that our differences now are simply traits we’ve come to love in each other.

Linda met the love of her life and married, and our husbands became best friends. Over the years Linda and I have been pregnant at the same time, have watched our kids play and grow together. We’ve celebrated birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries, cheered each other on, offered consolation when sadness struck, and become true sisters of the heart. I can’t imagine not having this wonderful woman in my life. She’s been a constant source of support and friendship for more than two decades. She’s the little sister I always wanted and now feel so blessed to claim.

The one thing I don’t know, and will never understand, is why. Why did she try so hard to be friends with me when I didn’t return the effort? What did she see in me, in our potential friendship? What made the idea of our connection so important that it was worth it for her to persevere, despite the fact we had so little in common?

Over the years I’ve asked her why she pursued our friendship with such purpose, but she doesn’t have an answer. Ironically, she doesn’t even remember that first Saturday phone call. But I do. I will never forget it.

That call changed my life.

~Lisa Ricard Claro

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