By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi
Admittedly, I was careless about friendships in my halcyon days of youth. I traveled a great deal, worked a lot, and socialized much with whoever my cadre of friends were at that moment. Instead of corresponding via letter, this was, after all, pre-e-mail/
Skype/FaceTime, I exchanged letters with friends for a while, but then was off and running wherever. This pattern persisted for a number of years. Some individuals I should have shaken off immediately, others I should have kept close to my heart. While I cannot rewrite my past follies, I can revel in the enduring friendship with my dear friend Juliet.
After completing my undergraduate degree in English, but not in Music, I traveled for several months in Europe. When the funds dwindled, I returned Stateside, and took a job with a travel agency. A year of sending others on trips was enough for me. I resolved to finish my Music degree, and thus returned to IU. The day I entered the classroom, I encountered a lively group of music students. The leader of the pack seemed to be a blond with a quick smile, spontaneous laugh, and Southern accent I’d heard in only in Westerns. I took a seat across from this spirited individual. She smiled at me, and I back.
“Hey!” she said, “I don’t know y’all. I’m Juliet. My eyebrows rose. “I’m from Houston.” That explained the distinctive twang.
She played the bassoon; I sang. For the next several years we shared a lot, drank a bit, performed often [in the School of Music, you naughty readers], and shared our secrets and dreams. She introduced me to her orchestra friends; I introduced her to my then on-again, off-again inamorato, a pianist. The last time I saw her at IU was shortly before she left for a two-year gig with the Guadalajara Orchestra in Mexico.
I never did complete my Music degree; I had become enamored with Linguistics. Off to graduate school I went. Several years later I wound up in Houston, visiting a former linguistics classmate. Although I knew Juliet was in Mexico, I phoned her parents anyway. Her father handed the phone to her. The gig hadn’t achieved nirvana.
The short version of this tale is that I wound up teaching at the University of Houston; Juliet completed her Master’s degree in Music at Rice. Thanks to Juliet and her parents, I had a second family in them during my ten years in Houston. After I married and returned to The Heartland, crying every step of the way, Juliet sent me university job notifications in Houston, would call to talk with me about them.
While my marriage didn’t last, hers did. I chose to raise my daughter in The Heartland around my family, but Juliet and I remained fast friends. We visit each other once a year in different cities, talk on the phone, and communicate through social media.
We haven’t really stopped talking since 1977.
Ciao for now.