Today is my friend, Lauren Shehadi Herbert's, birthday. I'm lucky to have two Laurens as great friends, both of whom are lovingly known as Lu. At some point it became obvious to me that I had to designate one Big Lu and the other Little Lu. Not because of any difference in size, though I do think that Big is taller, but because of age. I have a Big and a Little. How lucky am I?
The birthday girl and I met when we were both living in southern Vermont, about nineteen years ago, I think, around the time we were both busy having babies. She had lots: four, and I had two (she is exceedingly competitive, perhaps the only vaguely negative thing I could say about her). But, for some odd reason that still perplexes us today, we were kind of...afraid of each other back then. We weren't friendly. I guess we weren't ready. After I moved two hours away, to Charlotte, her Drew came north quite often to spend weekends with my Sam, and, oddly, we grew closer. I don't remember what the turning point was, if there was one, but today I know, for certain, that it would be very hard for me to breathe properly without Lauren in the world.
Lauren is warm and smart and funny. She talks fast, she loves music, she's an ace driver. She's curvaceous and generous. Her home is where everyone wants to be, and for good reason. It's what a home should be and you feel it the minute you walk in the door. There are always kids hanging out and animals inside and out: horses, dogs, chickens, a lot of living, a lot of noise. In the summer we lie around on the lawn by the pond; in the winter we snuggle up on her gigantic bed -- women and girls, knitting, talking, crying, laughing. Lauren is a goddess of life and her home is a refuge from the wearying world.
Big is a gardener, a knitter, a painter, a reader, a teacher, a horsewoman, a hiker, a pie-baker. She has the gift of being able to sort out all of my messes; to cut to the heart of my struggles. She understands things about being human. And she's beautiful. An incredible specimen of female awesomeness. Her husband, Bob, knows this, and worships her, rightfully. I love their love. I love how their love spills over into all the lives that come near them, making things better.
She has promised me that she will officiate at my wedding, when I get married again, and that she'll make sure my ashes get put into fireworks when I die. When I told her recently that I want to take a roadtrip in a convertible to the ocean for my 50th, she replied, "I have a convertible and Little has an ocean." Which they do; they actually do.
Lauren is so many things; I could write about her all day. Mostly, though, she is a rare blessing upon my life. With her I feel what every human wishes to feel: known. And in that generous space, I feel safe and loved. I can't imagine ever wanting anything more.
Happy birthday, my love. I'm sure glad you were born.