I was sitting on a short wall that was facing a Japanese pagoda house set upon a pond on the campus of my University in Ecuador. The waft of acrid smoke from the Belmont cigarette curling around my head. I was horribly homesick, and slightly uncomfortable with my leg stretched out in front of me heavy with my hiking boots. My leg was sore from falling off of a moving bus, and I was thinking I was grateful I had access to healthcare through my schooling, which was to say my fellow medical students.
In the midst of this pity party this sweet perky girl sat down next to me and in halted spanish, asked for a cigarette. I handed her one and my lighter and we struck up a conversation. She eventually asked me if I was Brazilian… and I started laughing. I was delighted to finally be considered to be from somewhere closer to the country in which I was born. I turned to her and began the long explanation that usually accompanies this kind of question.
I had met a dear, dear friend. We spent quite a bit of time together, laughing about our respective “viejo verdes” and other assorted scholastic adventures. We would sit in our college cafeteria eating french fries dipped in a sweet mix of mayo and ketchup telling stories about our lives. I was in medical school and she was doing a research project on homosexuality in Ecuador and we had access to a plethora of surveys given to our fellow alumni about their sexual attitudes, beliefs and practices as a part of her project. Analyzing that data was fun and a part of our shared love of things anthropological. We traveled together and developed a sound track to our friendship. I loved hearing about her friends and family back east.
We would dish on our favorite professors; the plastic surgeon turned medical anthropologist from Colombia, the Jewish philosophy professor that specialized in the German thinkers, the nutrition professor that shared our love for anthropology. She helped me manage a friend (acquaintance really) that came to visit me out of the blue. I helped her realize the hearts of palm farmer was a poor love interest. We both loved, we both cried, we both laughed.
It was the first time I had a girl friend that shared a similar intellectual curiosity. Sarah was also incredibly girly, and it was a welcome change for me… to have a girly friend that let me be me. She was about ten years younger than I was, so I was able to live vicariously through her. I am filled with fond memories of her.
Sarah and I stayed friends from that day she sat down next to me and I am ever so grateful for her presence in my life. When she died this past October, I was devastated. I wasn’t done being her friend yet, at least in the kind that involves voices and hugs and contact, I still am not. I miss her emails, I miss her phone calls, I miss her writing.
She was a wonderful writer, she had a clean way with words that was always a pleasure to read, even if the topic was outside the scope of my interests.
I miss Saracita so much.