Me: “So, where did we leave off?? I think the last time we talked, your mother died, you lost your job and a good friend of yours stabbed you in the back without remorse …. my father had a heart attack, I left my nursing career for self-employment in a completely unrelated field and I got married… so how what’s new???”
Her: “No. My mother died, I lost my job and my friend stabbed me in the back. YOU? Your dad had a heart attack, you left nursing and I found out you got married because of those pictures on that stupid little website of yours. I had to Google you, Lisa. Google.”
That’s, basically, how my conversation with Carol started yesterday.
Carol is a good friend of mine and I haven’t talked to her in 2 . . maybe 3 years? Some friend, hey? Yea, I know. Funny thing is – – it does not matter how much time flies – we have the ability to pick up the conversation where it left off, however many years ago. I don’t know how to explain Carol.. or even if there is an explanation for her. She just is.. and I think she’s pretty wonderful.
She’s one of those rare finds in life. Someone who would sooner charm you with what’s real, and what’s now.. rather than charm you with.. well – – charm. She reminds me of where I’ve been and who I am… and keeps me in touch with everything that is (and ever was) good about me – – – and (and this is part of her *charm*)… what is not so good about me. She’s never sugar coated anything and always lets me know how it is. At the same time, she accepts me … and everyone around her, for that matter, for who they are. Plain and simple. She is honest, down to earth and unassuming.
Maybe she’ll leave a comment here if she sees this.. that is, if she can figure out how. She’s not so technologically inclined. (Sorry, Carol – its true).
I met Carol in 1997 when I took a job as Director of Nursing at this small, obscure little nursing facility smack dab in the middle of Milwaukee. Probably the worst part of the city, at the time. Carol had been working there, at the time, as a medical records clerk/receptionist. The place was called Comstock and employed there was a pretty tight knit group of nurses, nursing assistants, social workers and office/admin workers. I was the new kid on the block. Not just new… I was new, and in charge of the place – – so, of course, on that day – everyone was curious.. talking about me in whispers and trying to figure out who I was and what I was made of.
My first day at Comstock was kind of a baptism-by-hellfire kind of experience. I was sitting in my office trying to get organized and get to know the ‘lay of the land’ around there.. and the social worker came into my office with a patient chart. She says “good, you’re here – – we have an issue.”
We have an issue (—words you don’t really want to hear on your first day in charge.)
To protect patient confidentiality..and to protect the virtue of any *innocents* who were involved, directly or indirectly – – I won’t reveal what the *issue* was. Let’s just say that it was a serious enough issue that involved some pretty heavy medical ethics violations that could not be ignored for a moment longer. By the end of that day – – I pissed off and alienated the Medical Director (he later quit.. retired.. or got fired – I can’t remember, and was replaced by another Medical Director guy who is one of my best friends, to this day), fired a handful of employees – – including everyone’s absolute favorite RN nurse manager and had the State Board of Licensure on the phone in my left hand, the State Department of Health and Human Services on the phone in my right hand.. and the CEO of the company paging me with ‘911’ pages every 5 minutes.
In the middle of the chaos – – I walk out of my office and find myself face to face with probably the rudest, most confrontational woman in my entire life, who was the daughter of one of the patients in this facility..who started screaming at me for something I can’t even remember now, but I’m positive in included the words “lawsuit” “incompetence” and “lawyer” – – it was a total smackdown right in the hallway, in front of my new staff and anyone else within earshot.
Hours into my day, at some point .. I turned around and headed back into my office to see if I could grab 5 seconds of peace on this, my first day on the job. And there, sitting in one of the chairs in front of my desk, sat Carol (who I had seen, but had not met yet).
She looked at me with a look that I have come to know (and love) so well.. that calm “fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke” smile and she said “Welcome to Comstock, I’m Carol..want lunch?”.
Carol became my sanity in the midst of complete insanity, and we’ve been friends ever since. I could tell you some of the stories of the things Carol and I have been through… the secrets we hold between each other – – but then I’d have to kill you. Seriously. The stories and experiences that Carol and I have shared would make an excellent book.. a thriller, really.
Makes me wonder… how do you, knowingly, lose touch with someone like that? I have no answers for it.
She admitted that she lost my number and couldn’t find my email address. (Yet she Googled me and found my stupid little website and saw my wedding pictures.. uh huh, ok.) I admitted that I, also, lost her phone number and made excuses about life getting hectic… work being nuts, and so on.. and so forth.
The truth of the matter is – – ever since I became self-employed and began working for myself, out of my own home office — I have become somewhat of a hermit… a recluse. Don’t believe me? Today – – my husband invited me outside on the patio for a coffee break.. when I walked out and sat down he looked at me and said:
“See that, up there? That’s the sun. That strange sensation you’re feeling on your skin? That’s called wind…over there? Those are trees. Outdoors..meet Lisa….Lisa, meet the outdoors.”
Funny guy..but I digress…
The beauty of my friendship with Carol is this: no matter how much time passes – – the friendship remains and is as strong as it was then. It’s been there this entire time, waiting to get picked back up and paid attention to again.
I have no intention on letting it slip .. she’s kinda stuck with me this time. I forgot how rich my life was with her in it on a regular basis – – so she’ll just have to get used to that again. Next Tuesday – her and I are getting together for dinner..and I’m thinking that might just need to be a monthly dinner date just to make sure we keep in touch this time.