It’s been a few days since I’ve talked to Heidi now, but I’ve had it in mind to write this post since I talked to her. Her birthday is a few days before mine, and when I still lived in Utah, there were a few years where we would celebrate our birthdays together by playing mahjongg and eating fondue. A strange combination, but we had a strange friendship as well.
I met Heidi in my linguistics classes a decade ago. When I met her she was very, very pregnant with her second child. We didn’t start hanging out together until after her baby was born, when we were taking a pragmatics class together. Neither of us is really sure what that class was about, but we both passed it, miraculously.
Every month or so we would also get together to play mahjongg, drink a few glasses of wine, and eat fondue. Heidi and her husband Brandon were always accepting of me and willing to open their home up to me. I felt I always had a place to go to unwind and have fun no matter what was happening in my life. Her kids knew who I was, and to this day, they are some of the few kids I can stand to be around for an extended amount of time. I think this is because both Heidi and Brandon treat their children as people; they don’t talk down to them, they are honest, and explain things plainly so their children can understand the world around them. I’ve never wanted to be a parent. But if I could be half the parent Heidi and Brandon are, I think I would do an OK job.
As their kids got a little older, the two of them took me on some of my first real mountain biking excursions. We would leave before the sunrise and spend all morning in the Wasatch Mountains. One trip was very late in the year; the puddles and mud were still frozen, and it was pitch black night when we started. As the sun came out and warmed us, we could see that the aspen leaves had changed to coins of gold and were falling all around us as we zipped along the single-track trails. I hope I never forget this memory, or the lessons Heidi and Brandon taught me about communicating, being carefree and optimistic, and hopeful that things will work out eventually.
One last story: Heidi and I went for a bike ride in the middle of the summer, and afterwards we stopped at a sandwich shop. I remember wanting a chicken breast sandwich, but I didn’t want it with tomatoes. I must have been exhausted, because I remember saying “I’ll take a tomato breast sandwich. Wait a minute. Tomatoes don’t have breasts!” Heidi and I laughed about this for a long time; and the sandwich was delicious. I am thankful for the adventures, for coming out to visit right after I moved to Portland, and for the continuing friendship and sense of family they provide me.