Friends are hard to find, difficult to leave and impossible to forget.-Amanda Kunkle
During the course of watching American Idol season 7, I began writing recaps on Entertainment Weekly’s old TV Fan site, where they allowed for blog posts to be done by the general public. It was part review central, part social networking, and part funny farm. I was just curious to see if anyone would read one of my recaps, since my blog at that time was getting absolutely no hits. It was just a lark, and I had no intention of pushing it past the first couple.
While perusing the site one evening, I came across a hilariously written and slightly naughty recap written by someone nicknamed Bitten. I just had to comment on it, and I told her what a crazy person she was. She responded on my own recap, and a new and deeply important ( to me) friendship was born that very night.
L, as I’m gonna call her for the sake of privacy for her family, was completely unlike anyone I had ever known. She was open, profane, smart, beautiful, loyal, sexy, generous, warm, and mostly she was fun. We would never physically meet, but we would spend hours online, chatting away about our kids and life in general. Most people would probably dismiss our relationship as somewhat shallow, but they would be missing the point of our relationship entirely. She lived in Tennessee, I lived in Canada, we bonded over a frivolous thing, but we still chose to be friends not by chance or by location, but by the fact that from the instant we started communicating, we understood each other.
We had rules- she was a Southern conservative, and I’m a Canuck liberal, so we never discussed politics. But we also encouraged each other to be open and honest about everything else. We never censored our selves or any others. We encouraged each other to dream and to follow through on those dreams. With the help of others, we ended up creating a new community for those who wanted to join in our insanity, and now we have hundreds of members, and a growing circle of friends, both close and acquaintances, to rely on. While real life has taken a toll on me and my ability to participate as I once did, L maintained it and loving cultivated this world, and for that, We all referred to her as Queen B.
L, though, was mostly my champion. My Tawanda girls always encouraged my writing from the start. I often feel that they have more faith in me than they should, but they also make me feel that I really do have a knack for what I love, and they are the first people in my life to really push me to do what I am now doing. L was the first person who saw my screenplay, and I was adamant she give her complete and honest opinion. She gave it, man, did she give it. She said every word with love and I respected her all the more for it, because she knew what she was saying could potentially hurt my feelings. I keep her Adobe’d copy of the screenplay with notes on my computer to refer to as I carefully rewrite it, and I hope to finish it one day soon.
L loved her girls, the wide net of women who collected together on a single website then expanded into real life trips and inside jokes abut blue drinks, diverse guilty pleasure music and television, stories about our kids insanity, and the ultimate belief that when push came to shove, we’d all be there to save each other from whatever was wrong in our lives. Through illnesses, birthdays, losses, marriages- L was always there with a plan, a joke, a song, a smile. She knew our secrets and our fantasies, and she never judged you on them or your other idiosyncratic habits. She knew I’m a mess in my head, but she was nothing but encouraging and comforting, pointing out my flaws when she needed to and reminding me of my strengths when I needed the reminder. I, in turn, admired her ferocious force of nature. Even online, when she walked into the chat room, she shined like a shiny new penny.
A lot of the time, though, we’d talk about writing. She was always saying how much she admired my writing. I was in awe of her skills. She would insist she wasn’t a writer, but anyone who has ever read a Bitten blog post or one of her many online stories knows she was, at her heart, a word lover and an amazing story-teller. I’m so glad we were smart enough to save all of the TV Fan blog columns before they disappeared into cyber purgatory, and they are there to remind us of her talent and humor and slightly twisted world view.
As my screenplay is finished, as my novel is finished, as anything I am currently working on is finished, it will be finished with a heavy heart. I learned last week that my dear friend and beloved partner in crime passed away. She leaves behind her family and two young children, but also a community of girlfriends who will miss her wisdom and her joy.
I spent the better part of the week crying and shaking, stunned by the news. It’s always tragic when someone so young dies. All I can think about was the last thing we talked about was the upcoming season of American Idol, which I still write about extensively for my own amusement and the amusement of the world we belong to. It was just a short tweet on Twitter, but it was welcomed. There were also some jokes about needing a coffee bong, as L liked to mock my expensive Starbucks addiction. We hadn’t been nearly as active over the summer together as we had been. Real life does sometimes interfere with the idealized life you create for yourselves in cyber land. I know she was supposed to meet up with a couple of mutual girlfriends for a concert. I was looking forward to hearing about it.
Now, I am feeling heavy-hearted and deeply sad. And the first thing I did when I sat down to work on my writing was change the dedication on my novel. It’s now dedicated to the two women who always believed in me- my mother, who passed in 2000, and my darling friend L, who never wavered in her belief that I could be something great.
Queen B, you will be truly missed, and I love you. And I promise to use hyphens.
Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.- Anonymous
” Though I know I’ll never lose affection/ For people and things that went before/ I know I’ll often stop and think about them/ In my life, I love you more.”- John Lennon