A long time ago, I was fortunate enough to meet my friend Kim. She actually worked for a while as my administrative assistant in a job that I didn’t particularly like and wasn’t even very good at. I often think that the whole reason I found myself in the position in the first place is so that the universe could introduce me to Kim. That was a good 20 years ago and, like most friends, we’ve traveled a lot of different roads together in that time.
But what I know as I reflect on my long life is that some people are your friends and some people are your family. Everyone in my birth family has passed. This is hard and sad on some levels, but they have been gone a long time and I have grown so close to my life family that my original people feel a bit like a long ago dream. I am very lucky to have a few folks in my tribe who are my true sisters and brothers. Jodi, Mary, Doug, Dianne, Gia, and Kim. We are intertwined, these people we choose along the way, offering a hand here, an ear there, a joke if it helps, an emoticon if we’re lazy, a meal, a drink, a knowing look across the room.
What I know as I reflect on my long life is that some people are your friends and some people are your family.
We’re also stressed and busy and full of the machinations of each moment of our lives that consume our every thought. It’s easy to forget that these people not only represent the scaffolding of my life, but are here reinforcing it whenever I need it. I’m relatively certain that I take almost everyone in my life for granted—and I’m sure they do the same with me.
In the spirit of someone who is increasingly obsessed with the speed of life and the preciousness of small moments, I’m working on slowing myself down long enough to relish more conversations, to laugh again at something funny that someone said, to hug someone even if it feels awkward and takes more time than I want it to. Sometimes, when my friends are together, I look at each of them and I can barely imagine where I would be without them.
So I’m taking this moment to honor Kim, partly because it’s her birthday, and mostly because my life would not look or feel even vaguely the same without her. She is a person to whom everyone is drawn almost instantly. She is hugely intelligent, hilariously funny, and kind beyond measure. When we found a lost dog in Hawaii several years ago, Kim and Jodi were so worried about him that they made a project of finding his home. When that didn’t work and the humane society had done all they could do, Kim arranged to have him flown to Sacramento. Now he just looks at her with deep love, lounges on her sofa, and only occasionally destroys things.
At City College, where she works, there are few people who don’t know her. She is the person practically everyone calls if they need something done. Her employees respect her, admire her, and thank their lucky stars for the day they met her. I know this because she has, at one point or another, hired the young adult children of nearly everyone I know. To those kids, Kim Goff is the person who gave them a chance. I feel fortunate to get to write this here today, because if I were trying to say this to her in person, she would have stopped me 10 seconds into it. And I love that about her. She is sentimental in a lovely and endearing way when it comes to other people, but her true humility is palpable.
When I am enmeshed in the business of my life—worried about something that might happen or concerned about how I handled a certain situation—I forget what an embarrassment of riches I have in my friends. So maybe one’s birthday is the perfect time to remind us both how lucky we are. Happy Birthday, Kim. All the love to you, my friend.