It's always nice to hear about a special friendship, but especially on Best Friends Day! So I was delighted that my friend and colleague, Judy Kirkwood, contributed this guest post today.
Newly divorced from a man who went from the love of my life to scum of the earth, I have been a tad isolated since moving half a continent away from friends and family in an effort to re-start my life.
When Kim called a few months ago to tell me she had purchased tickets for us to see James Taylor and Carole King on their Troubadour tour stop in Fort Lauderdale in June, I thought it was a nice look-forward-to. Kim lives in a Chicago suburb and I had recently moved to South Florida after a lifetime in Illinois and Wisconsin. Kim is such a fan that she had already seen the same concert just weeks ago in Chicago. I love Taylor and King's music, but I would not have splurged for concert tickets, considering my new financial state. Kim, however, knew we both would be energized by seeing these music icons of our times. In fact, we would be lifted up, spun around, strung out, and laid back down. Last Saturday night was a "trip," as we used to say -- one I feel so happy to have taken with Kim.
I have known Kim almost as long as James Taylor has known Carole King. Kim was dating Patrick, a friend of my boyfriend's while finishing her BA degree at the University of Illinois in Chicago where I was in grad school in English. We began meeting for lunch as well as with our guys. Kim and Pat broke up, but Kim and I stuck.
I was a bridesmaid in her lavish first wedding in a downtown Chicago cathedral dripping with gold. I was one of the first people she called when her dad died on the operating table. We didn't see each other much after I married my boyfriend and moved to Madison, Wisconsin. But we had a presence in each other's lives. I was at her second wedding and she was one of the first people to visit me after I had my oldest son. I remember her getting right into bed with me, gazing with awe at the supremely beautiful baby between us. When I confided that I seemed to be hallucinating a crown on his head as if he were a prince, she saw it too.
Is there a woman my age (approaching 60) who doesn't remember singing along to "You've Got a Friend" with Taylor (in 1971) or with King on her Tapestry album? Tapestry came out at a time when I was living with three girls in an old house near the UI campus in Champaign-Urbana. I sang the entire album daily at the top of my lungs. Coming off an intense relationship my sophomore year of college, I was not looking hard for a replacement, but singing with King was getting me ready for the next big thing.
Tapestry was an album with songs for a lifetime. "I Feel the Earth Move" and "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman" never fail to get me on my feet dancing. "It's Too Late" is a tearjerker that penetrates my heart even more deeply today.
It used to be so easy living here with you
You were light and breezy and I knew just what to do
Now you look so unhappy and I feel like a fool
Ouch! My sentiments exactly.
Then there are the James Taylor songs: "Country Road," "Fire and Rain," "Sweet Baby James," and my favorite, "Shower the People You Love With Love." In a New York Times article on June 1, Anthony DeCurtis quotes James Taylor's reaction in 1970 to Carole King's song "You've Got a Friend": "'She's written it. That's The Star-Spangled Banner right there.'" I tried to make "Shower the People" my personal anthem, but I did not have the resources to keep the shower on.
The beautiful thing about being at the concert in the sixth row together was that despite our relationships with the men we had loved, at least Kim and I had made it through the fire and rain. Like many people at the concert, we held hands, had our arms around each other, sang looking into each other's eyes although we tried not to miss a second of King and Taylor's chemistry together.
I do not know what the future holds for either of us as we start new lives as single women. But I do know I've got a friend who is trustworthy, tried, and true. The best thing Kim said to me as my marriage was dying was this: "I will never divorce you." What a difference it makes to know that whatever happens in life, "You've Got a Friend."
P.S. The Taylor/King concert tour ends on July 20.
Judy Kirkwood, an award-winning writer living in Delray Beach, Florida, is grateful for her many female friendships. A member of the Parent Advisory Board of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, she blogs about addiction issues at http://motherwarriors.blogspot.com.
Have a question about female friendships? Send it to The Friendship Doctor.
Irene S. Levine, PhD is a freelance journalist and author. She holds an appointment as a professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. Her new book about female friendships, Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend, was recently published by Overlook Press. She also blogs about female friendships at The Friendship Blog and at PsychologyToday.com.