Thursday, July 16, 2015

Countdown to Qatar: Letting Go of Friends

Saying "See You Later"
to Kenn Ann

I am actually very good at maintaining links to old friends.  Facebook has certainly made that easier.  I always seem to have one good friend during each stage of my life or for each locale. 

One of my oldest friends, Kenn Ann, visited this past week-end.  She was my best friend during my years in high school and college.  We've been friends ever since.  We spent several hours talking about that period of our lives, as we have in the past, and still discovered new things about our relationship.

I have always said, and she agrees, that I made her be my friend.  In high school, as an immigrant from Indiana, she was not a part of the cliques with whom I moved comfortably -- whether smart kids, female jocks, or artists.  

(I'd been in the school system since second grade.  I'm on the first row, far left, sitting cross-legged in the light colored top.   My best friend, Gwen, is sitting next to me.  Suzanne Magee, who accompanied me to Dubai in December 2014, is seated on the second row, second from the end on the right, in the jumper.) 

I could tell Kenn Ann was smart and funny!  I had to get to know her!

She sat across the room in our senior-year Psychology class and, somehow, I maneuvered so I soon sat next to her.  Later, I was taking her to McDonald's for lunch in my 1956 VW bug.  

I'd go to her house after school to eat her Mom's Croatian garlic soup and goof off.  Later, we planned trips to the SIU Music Festival, where she proved incapable of holding her "liquer."  Granted, I have always weighed more than her.  And, granted we were drinking cheap wine, like Boonesfarm.  

We camped in the Missouri Ozarks with my boyfriend, Ken Sallade, and his good-natured, but rowdy, biker friends, including Doug Mosley.  She kept me laughing throughout these fairly innocent escapades.

We attended the same college -  Grinnell -- in Grinnell, Iowa.  It's a top school, but we both left after a year.  I thought it was too small and yearned for the big city.  She thought it was too big and felt overwhelmed.  One summer, before we called it quits, we hitchhiked on I-80 from Iowa to Massachusetts to see my college roommate, Louise DesJardins.  It was my idea.

That was my first experience with the ocean.  One night we went to a local restaurant/bar near the water.  While Kenn Ann was in the bathroom, a lapsed NY stock broker --  with a rum runner sailboat -- invited us on a sail to Martha's Vineyard.  I said "YES" before she got back.  That was typical.  I'd plan the escapades, and she would willingly go along for the ride. 

When I moved back to St. Louis, after five years of living elsewhere, we would spend lazy summer week-ends fishing while canoe-floating one of the many streams found in the Missouri Ozarks.  We used, what I liked to call, "the blessed crawdad lure," shown in the upper left corner of this photo.  I've put one in the keepsake box that I will take to Qatar.  It will always remind me of those trips.

Over time, I've relinquished more control to her as she has asserted more control.  Last summer, Kenn Ann, Christine Bierman, and I spent three weeks traveling in the West for my "silver jubilee birthday celebration."  Kenn Ann planned most of the trip, which required three 60-year old women to tent camp in the Redwood Forest and then at Yosemite.  Of course, that made us very cool with several younger folks we met along the way.

As Kenn Ann often does, she charmed my other friends -- in that case, the two ASL alumni we met in Lake Tahoe -- Meghan (aka Sally) Scott and Jessica Nelson

This last visit, we talked about how important the art department of University City High  School had been to about every aspect of our lives.  She became a photographer, works with puppets, and has many artist friends.  I design gardens, interior decorate, create visually interesting slides for my classes, make beaded jewelry, and design clothing.  That art department taught us we could do just about anything.  We developed an artist's eye and an appreciation for original art.  My home and office are full of original art, and it always invites a closer inspection and a conversation about it.  I'm taking my Native American art to Qatar just for that reason.

When Kenn Ann left this past week-end, I told her I was not going to cry . . . then I did.  She has not promised to come visit me in Qatar.  I guess I'll have to plan that escapade.


  1. Love it! I'm gonna email it to Sally!!!!

  2. My Dearest PY,
    You know I am a novice to this social media stuff but for you, I will take a leap! I am heartbroken I will not get to see you before your big move. Fingers crossed you have to fly through DIA... I loved reading about your life long journey with Ken Ann. K'NAN! I am honored I was able to meet this fine lady. Blow a good bye kiss to the Grund a smile hello to the life of lavish. I can't wait to hear all about it.

    I love you!

  3. Good friends are a treasure, especially when they last as long as yours. Many more years to you both!

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