For Yojo*

Today is Yojo’s birthday. She hasn’t been feeling well, so I hope this finds her feeling better. I hope her voice returned. I hope she enjoys her day.

I think I first met Yojo my second year at college. I don’t remember exactly if it was that year or the one before, but I do remember the moment. Hardy Hall, filled with loud boys and smoke, much smoke. I was sitting on the floor, so shy then I barely spoke. She came in—this big coat, these intense brown eyes, head shaved as it was back then—and everyone called to her. She was older than me; she knew everyone. She was the coolest person I’d ever seen. Thus, I was unable to talk to her.

But Yojo saw me sitting there. She must have sensed how uncomfortable I was amid all the noise and loud boys. She knew E, my boyfriend, and she must have heard my name before this because she said, “You’re Nova.” She bent down and talked to me, she hugged me, she met my eyes. She made me feel welcome—a part of things, somebody. She was the first person of that group to really do so. Thank you, Yojo. I don’t know how it happened, but we became great friends after that. I’ve never stopped being in awe of her, though.

She used to sing “Water” by PJ Harvey and give me chills. She’d play pool like a demon. She tried to teach me, but even though I was awful she never complained; she always played out the game like it was worth playing. She made Thanksgiving dinner for the group that stayed on campus for the holidays, and I remember it as the best I’ve ever eaten. She wrote poems that ripped my heart out and made me cry—I still think of a certain one I’ve never been able to get out of my mind. We used to have a writing group; I miss it. She’d read my stories and my attempts at poems and always know the exact right thing to say. Right now she’s writing a novel and I can’t wait to (I hope, I hope) one day get to read it. She was there for me, for me and for E; I hope she knows I’m there for her.

Much love to you, Yoj. Happy Birthday!

* This post was originally privately posted elsewhere, but I’ve since moved it for all to see!

** And (she doesn’t know this yet) but her birthday brought me some very good luck. Impending exciting news came by phone today—details to come when I know more and can spill. It seems perfect that such good news came on my good friend’s birthday. Like she made it happen somehow… Did she?


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