project 365

6. Charita.

I’ve been putting off writing this post for a few days because doing so would make everything permanent.

But writing is how I process, so here it goes.

A dear, dear friend of mine died after an accident on New Year’s Eve. I’ve been in a daze ever since I found out. It still doesn’t feel real. Maybe it never will.

In a post a few days ago, I mentioned how she and I were going to write more letters, so this tribute to her is going to be in that style. And since I can’t mail it to her, I’m sure she’ll forgive me for doing it on a computer, even though technology is ruining everything.

Dear Charita,

Hey. I miss you. I’ve missed you for months, and it looks like I’m going to miss you for a long, long while.

I just wanted to say how thankful I am to have met you. I’m still unclear on how that happened, by the way. It all came about during the blur that was everyone’s first year in D.C. Jon tried to explain it to me while he was in town in November: he knew Mengfei, who knew Mackenzie, who knew me, and you were brought into the fold because you were his cousin.

I guess it doesn’t really matter how it happened, just that it did.

My first solid memory of you was when we went to the pre-parties for the White House Correspondents Dinner a few years ago. You were wearing a black dress and your hair was down, and I didn’t realize then that this was one of the only times (possibly the only time?) that I’d ever see that.

It all runs together after that: Serenades of “I Want It That Way.” Cooking brunch at your place. Wandering through the city and you forbidding me from looking at my phone to figure out exactly where we were because we’re supposed to rely on our (mostly non-existent) internal compasses. Feeling “so American” because we went to a baseball game on Labor Day.

Walking down to the White House despite the cold on Election Night because that’s just what you do on Election Night. Your house filling up with smoke because building a fire was supposed to create a special ambience during a Game of Thrones watch even though it was 60 degrees outside. Balancing on fences at Chincoteague, trying to catch glimpses of the ponies. Your last night in D.C., when me tripping in Adams Morgan caused you to collapse onto the ground in laughter.

And then there were the numerous Charita-isms:

“Male penguins make the best husbands ever.”

“I don’t have the heart to kill.”

“I just leaned forward — that was me hugging you with my mind.”

“Interesting how spam is both a loathed type of email and treasured canned meat. Seems incongruous.”

There are many more memories and many more Charita-isms, and I can’t write about them all here. It makes me sad that there aren’t more to come.

But I’m glad to have the ones I do.

Thank you for the memories. Thank you for the laughs. Thank you for being my friend.

Mostly, just thank you for being you.

Miss you lots. Love you more.

jess

*One of her colleagues at her new job wrote a lovely tribute to her as well.

Pictured: Mackenzie, Charita & Kaitie on Charita’s last night in D.C. The time mentioned in the letter about me me falling in Adams Morgan happened while I was attempting to Instagram this moment.

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