Today is my friend Sherri's birthday. "I don't want to think about it!" she told me earlier this week, laughing and waving her hands as if to push the whole day away. I'm pretty sure she was joking, because Sherri is not the type of person to get hung up on a person's age, especially her own.
We've been friends for about a decade. We work together and we're in a tight little group of friends that started out as a book club but has slowly evolved over the years into a more generic "women's group": we get together every month or two to talk and eat and just hang out. My favorite gatherings take place at Sherri's house; she lives not too far from Pasadena, but it feels like a completely different world -- isolated, quiet, rural. You're likely to see deer, rabbits and quail on her property, and you'll definitely see the chickens and horses that live there full-time. It's as if she lives in a little patch of "country" on the outskirts of L.A. I always like to check to see how her many varieties of pumpkins and gourds are doing.
Sherri and I have a lot of similar interests. We both enjoy gardening (especially growing food), making things with our hands, cooking, and reading. We even like a particular sort of niche reading material: books about people who've gone back to the land, or taken up farming, or chucked it all and moved to some isolated spot in the Arctic Circle. One of the things I love best about Sherri, and a major way in which she differs from me, is that she is living the life she envisions for herself. I'd like to grow a lot of my own food, try new recipes often, read everything I want to, and bake and decorate cupcakes for friends, but it's hard to find the time with all the other things I feel I need to do. Sherri makes the time. She doesn't regard activities like these as ideals -- they're how she wants to spend her life, so that's how her life is spent. She'd laugh if I told her this, but she's sort of a role model for me.
Sherri has many wonderful qualities, including a great sense of humor, intelligence, common sense, and amazing storytelling skills. The things I like best about her, though, are her genuine kindness and her complete lack of bullshit. It sounds as if those two qualities might be incompatible, but they rest easily in Sherri. I can always count on her to be honest, but she'll be gentle about it. And she can invariably end up making me laugh at my own insecurities and foibles. Sherri, like me, also hates the heat of summer, and this time of year we talk often about our longings for autumn. Despising sweat -- it's a remarkable issue over which to bond.
Everyone should have someone like Sherri in their lives. Happy birthday, SheGal!