I have a friend. "Great," you think, "everyone should have a friend." My friend is extraordinary in many ways. "Even better," you think, "extraordinary friends can be interesting, fun to be around, and can keep you on your toes." This person I have known since we were freshmen in college. She was extraordinary, even then, having graduated from high school a year early. We became roommates the second semester, and then sophomore year, she went to a different college, where she was a legacy.
M and I have stayed friends because she and I are very different and yet have a similar mind set. I have big dreams, want to travel the world and meet more extraordinary people. She has big dreams and DOES travel the world, meeting extraordinary people. More importantly, she meets ordinary people, but in places so far removed from my realm of experience that when she writes about them, describing the people and the culture of where she is residing - which changes every few years - these ordinary people become extraordinary.
One of the very cool things about M is that she is fearless. She is currently teaching in Oman. She has visited Yemen!! She has lived and taught in the United Arab Emirates. She has traveled to Australia as a tourist (alone!) and visited places I had to look up on the globe to locate, like the Seychelles. She walks/drives/flies/ into new situations with the attitude of someone who knows she can manage to adapt to a different culture or learn a new language. She studied in Germany, and can speak several languages. At one point, she was a secretary at a major New England university - telling no one there that she has a PhD - so she would have time to write.
And oh, can she write! M is one of the wittiest and most observant writes I have ever read. On a regular basis, she sends all of her friends "missives" describing her latest experiences as an ex-patriot, which read more like Oscar Wilde than Hemingway. I have saved every one of her missives and cards and one day, if she does not, I will bundle all these amazing stories of the different sides of human nature that she has come in contact with, and I shall get them to a publisher for all the world to share.
With all these amazing things happening to her, and fascinating people she befriends, she never forgets those of us who have chosen a different, more conservative path. I frequently get postcards of gorgeous clothing, or accessories, or ancient forts or grand manor houses, because she knows I am interested in costumes and architecture. She NEVER forgets a birthday - and, damn!, I just missed hers - AGAIN! When she vacations, she will pick up exquisite fabrics and mail them to me because she knows I will appreciate them. When my Girl Scout troop was studying Oman for Thinking Day, she sent dresses, incense, incense burners and food, so the girls could get a full understanding of the country they were reading about. Her generosity is as endless as her wit.