Fire bottom friend and courage

In college, one of my very best friends was a flame-haired girl named Trisha. We met early during freshman year, two of the six girls who’d been transferred from other, less-preferred dorms, onto the all-boys fourth floor of the ever-hopping Bobb-McCulloch.

You can imagine that we were not dissatisfied with our placement.

We lived across the hall from each other, if memory serves. It might have been kitty-corner but it doesn’t matter because by winter break, we’d already been to her house in MN for Thanksgiving, tried to convince her Chicago-based aunt and uncle that we had ESP so tight was our bond, and smoked something fun before scarfing Lucky Charms and mooning over boys from her dorm room window.

Trish was always on the go. She was exercising, buying cases of Diet Pepsi and golden delicious apples (double yuck in my opinion), acing classes and taming that hair. Unlike me, she’d attended a terrific high school and didn’t find college all that challenging. I, meanwhile, was not studying hard enough to overcome the profound state of way-behind in which I’d arrived nor did I care because I was finally having ALL THE FUN.

I learned so much from Trish, and we have what feels like infinite memories of laughter, travel, tearful conversations of sharing and support, bad breakups, weddings, her allergic reaction from eating too much shrimp while visiting me in Louisiana, and that long-ago toke. One of the many nicknames I bestowed upon her freshman year was “Fire Out My Butt” (FOMB) because she always moved with such speed and purpose.

At Northwestern, which abuts Lake Michigan, beautiful paths wend around the water and through campus. We would often rollerblade along them on sunny afternoons (another thing Trish taught me), me always in her wake. Once, as Trish and her red curls flew ahead of me, we approached a spot where if you didn’t turn left or right, you’d go into one of the lake’s inlets.

“Right or left, Trish?” I yelled. Again and again. She didn’t hear me, because naturally, FOMB was far ahead and blissful in the breeze, and at the last minute, I had to dive roll into the grass to avoid a watery finish. The entire scene still makes me laugh hysterically.

FOMB and I remain dear friends and despite the fact that she lives in CA, we see each other as often as possible. Which isn’t that often and it’s never enough, but we make it work.

I’ve thought about Trish a lot during the past few weeks because she has always approached new situations and opportunities with balls. Even if she didn’t actually feel confident inside and like any realhuman, she has struggled at times with that, you can bet that’s how she came across. Confident, brave, ballsy. “Of course I’m going to try this.”

Recently, I have lived that mantra even more than I usually do. I’ve put myself out there in the vast writing world, scared but sure. I know my voice, I know I’m capable, and I know that you never know unless you try. Or ask. Or jump in. Or, even, dive.

I’ve received some really good news and much affirmation lately, and it reminds me that although there was also rejection therein, living large is kinda what this life is about, in terms of maximizing the hell out of it. Living with enthusiasm and confidence and hard work and chance.