Ten years ago I landed a gig shelving books and telling people where the bathroom was at Barnes and Noble. It was a thankless job but it allowed me to manhandle books and drink really cheap coffee all evening long. Hands down the best part about being a bookseller was the people I met.
Emily Morris and I met at cash wrap early one Sunday morning when we were both under-caffinated and surly, we immediately realized that a.) we both had the same intense obsession with good books b.) we both intensely hated Sunday morning book shoppers and c.) we lived four blocks from each other. I was drawn to her, she was so sarcastic and so dry and had the most amazingly infectious smile. Unlike myself, with my weird social anxieties Emily was friends with everyone in the store, and I think we were all glad to be part of that club. There was no subterfuge with Emily, she told you how it was – even if the truth was that you were being a total ass, she told you with a smile but she told you.
We spent a lot of time hanging out, discussing books – rummaging through thrift stores, eating, drinking – I valued her honesty and went to her when I needed a solid opinion.
One fourth of July Jason & I spent the day at her childhood home in Lebanon, we lounged by her pool becoming much better friends with her dogs than her parents (who I think were secretly horrified we showed up with a case of beer for one afternoon), and when it got dark she drove a drunk Jason and I to some random cow pasture to watch fireworks off of the hood of her Volkswagen – it was the best fourth of July ever.
There came a point when we unknowingly grew up, Emily moved to Norristown and became the first single 20-something I knew to buy her own home, I got married and knocked up. Our communication became sporadic, we would email and talk and not nearly often enough I would drive out to Norristown to check out her crazy DIY projects. And of course I was always invited to her annual birthday bash that she threw every year on her birthday – Groundhogs day
But we continued our shared interest in books, Emily was a writer and when I started this blog she became one of my number one fans, it was amazing because I longed for her approval. Last year I started a book club and as soon as she caught wind of it she asked to join – I was thrilled that this meant she was obligated to hang out with me once a month, we emailed back and forth and made plans and then life happened and the meeting got cancelled and then I got sick and then and then… I emailed her a couple of times but never heard back – I assumed she was busy, besides writing for two newspapers she also taught community college courses and spent a lot of time fixing up her house and vacuuming up the fur from her English Springer spaniel and three kittens.
In December I sent her a Christmas card and a few weeks later I got a message via facebook from a friend of hers telling me that in April Emily died in a horrific car accident.
I have never known anyone as full as life as Emily – no one who has laughed louder or harder, no one who exuded the kind of energy force she did. I cannot even understand or wrap my head around a world that is so cruel in its randomness.
Its been hard for me to accept or share with anyone – how do you begin? I do not know. All I know is that Saturday she should be turning 32 and she should be at home, with 47 of her closest friends, handing out free Punxsutawney Phil paraphernalia My phone keeps reminding me its coming up – how do I delete that?
I miss you my friend.