Well, it's a very special day here in Houston. Not just because it snowed last night (no, really), but because today is Luann's birthday.
I first met Luann a couple of years ago, just one of the two hundred or so faces at the office, but only really got to know her last year. I was doing some job interviews (finding people to replace me in the job I had just vacated because I was told it was going away) and found Luann amidst a long line of people who confidently answered my technical questions incorrectly. Luann, lacking confidence, still managed to do a better job than any other applicant.
When the interview was over, she hugged me. Now, I've been in a few interviews, been on both sides of the table, but this was the first time I had seen or participated in a hug. And that was before I even told her she got the job. She's just that kind of person.
Later, I was asked to do the training for the three people I had selected as being the only applicants not burnt out by drugs. I came to know the three (Luann, Mark and Mary) pretty well, and I've come to feel very close to them. But Luann was special.
She and I started going to lunch together, and chatting like school girls, and later we started spending time after work socializing, going shopping, and generally getting to know one another. She told me about her life before she became an engineer, and I told her about my family, and we became best friends in record time. Well, record time for anyone post-puberty.
The thing about Luann is that she's full of love. Not that sick kind they have in Florida, but the kind people are supposed to have for each other. When she looks at you, it's not with the eyes of someone sizing you up to see how they can either use you or crush you, but the eyes of someone who is looking for the person inside you so that she can get to know that person and cherish the experience. Not unlike Heinlein's martians.
From the beginning, Luann accepted me for who I am. It sounds odd to say this, but that's something that I didn't have from anyone else. And while it shouldn't matter for an adult, it does. Especially when the state of not being accepted has been pervasive for one's entire life. I have some very dear friends who would kill or die for me, but they all want to put me in a little box, and have me act and think like they want me to. Luann is different. And it's because of her love and support that I've found the strength to look inside myself, see who I really am, and stop pretending.
And it's not just me. Luann has this special quality. She hugs everyone, and they hug back. She doesn't judge, and she doesn't belittle.
A few days ago, I suddenly realized that I felt as though I had already received the full benefit from Luann's acceptance of me. I still have personal growth to do, but I felt as though her acceptance had helped me to the point where I can now move on, and be myself and stand up for myself, even without using her as a crutch. I wondered, if this were the case, where do I go from here? The option of leaving her behind and moving on was never even on the table. I still value her as a friend, and spiritually as a sister. So I thought, I could repay the favor...
I've noticed a downturn in her mood recently. The company we work for, Compubomb, has finally gotten to her, and is making her act in ways I never knew possible. She's still a good and caring person, but she seems too be getting angry more often, and she's tired, and stressed out. I'm concerned that Compubomb is on the verge of breaking something that can't be fixed nor replaced. Thanks to Luann, I feel the need to help people that I haven't felt since I was a child. I have hope for a bright future. I look at people and I see the good in them. My favorite color is pink, where it used to be black. I smile more, and I enjoy sunshine instead of rain.
Just by being open and accepting and not trying to force me to be the type of person everyone thought I was, she allowed me to be myself in the company of others, which I've never been able to do before. So I was thinking that perhaps I could do the same for her... I could be open and loving and listen to her problems and show her the sunshine and help her get over the things that have caused her distress lately. But a voice inside me spoke: "Idiot! She's helped you with one problem. If you think that's all she has to teach you, then you haven't been paying attention."
So I'll be there, and I'll do anything I can to help her when she has problems, but I have a feeling she'll be overcoming them all by herself, and I'm sure that she'll be helping me out in ways I can't even imagine. I look forward to our continuing adventures.
All this to say....
Happy Birthday, Luann!