Note: I started writing this post months ago probably as a tribute to Mimi who was about to have a birthday. I was inspired by the poem at the bottom. I’m finishing it up today because I miss my friend, I have five unpublished (read: unfinished) blog posts, and I haven’t posted anything in this space since June. Enjoy!
In first grade, I knew a few things for sure: I wanted a job that gave me lots of power (Astronaut, Lawyer, & President of the United States made the short list). And I wanted a best friend. Back then, friends were ranked like “first best friend” and “third best friend”. And girls were mean. You’ve seen the movie. It wasn’t QUITE as dramatic at my elementary school, but I do remember a group of girls who created a fake club and asked me to join just so they could NOT show up at the secret location when I did. Ouch.
Needless to say I went into middle and high school with some trust issues. I thought they were resolved in college, but once graduated and transplanted to South Korea, I discovered a dangerous pattern. When faced with a relationship which could potentially end in rejection (ehem, that’s basically EVERY relationship, right?) I would eject before I could be rejected. I was 23 and I had never really been vulnerable in any relationship. I didn’t know how serious this was until I was stuck in a foreign country on a one year contract surrounded by the smell of garlic and soju. I really needed a best friend.
Enter Mimi Marquez of @mimosupremo and delightfulsurprises.blogspot.com. We went to the same college, but as Mimi would say “traveled in different circles.” She was from Texas. So, that explains it. Just kidding, Mims. Really, she lived in a different dorm, we had different majors, and I was way too busy establishing my codependency and superiority via the speech and debate team. I know. I just didn’t see it as clearly then. Please, don’t judge. I’m working on full disclosure here.
Mimi had a friend who knew my cousin. And my cousin had lived in South Korea for the last two years. She was coming back to the states and looking for a replacement for her job teaching English at a private Christian school in the city of Daejeon. I hadn’t been interested when she asked me. Turns out Mimi was, though. She got the job and moved to South Korea over July 4th weekend in 2004.
Around April 2004, one month before I would graduate from college, I had this moment between murder mystery parties (FULL disclosure) and midnight dollar movies in Springfield (Mom, if you’re reading this I did study, just not as much as Amanda.) where I realized after college, people get jobs and then work for the rest of their lives as adults. I was not prepared for this, so I asked my cousin if there were any other good schools hiring people to teach English in her city. She knew of a school and recommended me and bada boom, I moved there in August 2004.
I arrived on the scene with absolutely zero knowledge of Korea – remember I moved there because I was afraid to grow up – armed with one phone number, Mimi’s. I called her fifteen minutes after I checked into the weirdest motel of my life in the heart of Daejeon – Korea’s city of technology and science. I had been crying for hours. I felt empty. I sobbed into a push button phone with Mimi on the other end of the line, “Will you be my best friend? I really need you.”
And all of a sudden I had been vulnerable.
And Mimi, incredibly said, “Yes. I need you too.” This was the most amazing gift. She committed to me before she knew I would call her anal retentive and make her cry; before she knew she would yell at me for hurting her feelings and make me cry and we’d spend nights sleeping on the floor in each other’s apartments crying ourselves to sleep over our mutually hurt feelings. Oh, friendship.
God was good to us. We persevered. We walked all over that city, took buses all over that country, and climbed literal mountains together. We shared our lives and it changed us. I was forced for the first time ever to lay off the eject button. Same for you, Mims? It’s 7 years later. Technically we “travel in different circles” again. Mimi lives in Texas (mm hmm) and I’m in Kansas City, but I’m better because I know her and I’m forever grateful for her long-suffering friendship, which offers such a tangible picture of grace.
And now I’ll leave you with a poem which paints a tangible picture of Mimi. She wrote it to introduce herself to the internet via her blog:
sometimes whiny and bossy
prefers to be hilariously fun
displays creative genius in quiet spaces
intelligent but not always logical
loves and hates plans
intrigued by nature