Leslie, who has been one of my BFFs since 1972 tells me how she just doesn’t understand where I am coming from almost every time we talk.
Thirty seven years… What a long time to be girl friends. We’ve known each other through joy and sorrow, relationships and break-ups.
We met when Ron, a man who has been helpful and supportive of both of us sent her to the NTCU office when she came to California from Virginia.
She popped up on a Monday morning just as I was opening the office up. I took her to breakfast at the infamous Compton’s Cafeteria. She told me she was a model and I wrecked her by asking to see her portfolio.
We couldn’t possibly be more different. I was a stone Yankee on the fringes of Weather Nation with a deserter boy friend and ultra left wing politics, an atheist even then and she was the last southern belle, conservative and traditional. I was feminist hippie with a pop taste in clothes, she was ultra feminine in chiffons and other flowing fabrics.
She told me she couldn’t believe I was a sister and that when she met me she assumed I was a co-ed working at the office while going to school, a sort of internship.
We got our surgery at Stanford, me in 1972 and her in 1973. At one point Dr Laub, who was far more in tune with what girls and women from the Bay area were like asked me if I thoght she was a transsexual and not a queen because she was so ultra feminine and flamboyant. I said with a shrug, “She’s Southern.” drawing out the word southern for emphasis. Thirty some years later I would visit the Rose Festival Museum in Tyler, Texas and see exactly how profoundly accurate that assessment was.
We went to movies together, black and white classic movies of the 1930s and 40s. She loved the glamor and I loved the photography.
We ran through the gay dance clubs that allowed women in as well as men, mainly the Stud on Folsom Street owned by Alexis Muir, the probable model for Mrs Madrigal of “Tales of the City”.
She slept with my lover and confessed to me some ten years later. I told her I knew, that he had told me when it happened. She couldn’t understand my in-difference. I told her the only thing different about that particular incident vis a vis my relationship with my boy friend was that I hadn’t slept with her too.
She was shocked but when it had happened we were a far better world, also we were young and bohemian… Life was a movable feast.
I became a groupie and a model. I focused on lead singers, lead guitars and rising movie stars along with a bunch of never going to make its. I was indifferent to modeling and preferred to be looking through the viewfinder. She wanted to model but lacked the ambition and ambition so clashed with her desires for a 1950s life as a traditional wife.
I became a radical feminist and a woman identified woman, something that meant a militant lesbian in those days.
Now, when we talk, which is trying for me since she has been very ill for a long time with a pancreatic problem I am afraid she is dying.
She tells me she is disappointed I never married and entered a traditional relationship, I tell her how sad it is that she wasted her considerable artistic talents. We talk about our friends who are no longer with us and how we miss them, the tragedy of lives live too fast for too little time.
When we talk I am reminded of a Dylan song, “And you’re right from your side and I’m right from mine, we’re just one too many mornings and a thousand miles behind.”
The reality is she did what she thought was right for her and I did what was right for me. I wouldn’t trade my life for hers nor would she trade her life for mine.
I am writing my life story, I’m afraid she has neither the time nor will to write hers.
We love each other and cherish the friendship that has had its high moments and lows for nearly 40 years if you include the years when we were so angry with one another we swore we would never speak to each other.