If you have tears, prepare to shed them.
Caroline Knapp was the author of Drinking: A Love Story. I wrote about it because some of you surely have issues with alcohol, and I thought it might be of use. And because it's acutely observed and beautifully written. And because there's a painful irony here: Caroline gets sober, only to die in June of 2002, when she was forty-two, seven weeks after she was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer.
Caroline Knapp had a best friend. Gail Caldwell. Also a writer. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2001. She too had alcohol issues.
Two women writers. Both dog lovers. Both recovering alcoholics. Both living alone, and liking it. Both athletes. Near-neighbors in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Friends. Best friends. One died. The other wrote a book: Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship. [To buy the book from Amazon, click here. For the Kindle edition, click here.]
There are men and women I love, and I think they know it, and I hope they know how incredibly lucky I feel that I'm in their lives, but we're talking about something else here, something deeper and more precious and, certainly, scarier.
"It's an old story," Caldwell begins. "I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that.''
Define everything. Well, rowing on the Charles River. Writing. Alcoholism. And, most of all, afternoon-long walks with their dogs:
"Let's take the long way home," she would say once we had gotten to the car, and then we would wend our way through the day traffic of Somerville or Medford, in no hurry to separate. At the end of the drive, with Clementine [Caldwell's dog] snoring softly in the back seat, we would sit outside the house of whoever was being dropped off, and keep talking. Then we would go inside our respective houses and call each other on the phone.
[cross-posted from HeadButler.com]