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David Sedaris, Holidays on Ice
I met S the last semester of my undergraduate degree in Chicago. We shared a class and she was the type of student who read all the extra materials, pulled arguments effortlessly out of the readings, and rolled her eyes unabashedly when she thought someone asked a stupid question. I was in awe of her and therefore avoided contact in fear of receiving a look of disgust. She approached me, however, a few days after she had hit a bicyclist with her car. Apparently my biking to class made me one of the few people she knew who rode regularly and she felt the need to confide in someone familiar with the bicycling community.
I oftentimes think back as to what an awkward first conversation it was to begin one of the most important friendships in my life. Especially since I am in no way, shape, or form an experienced biker.
When I moved to Boston that summer with my boyfriend, I remember thinking our friendship was severely truncated and was pleasantly surprised when she began texting. Our texts turned into emails, letters, bits and bobs, and hours upon hours of phone conversations. My relationship fell apart and, since I was still living in our shared apartment, my long talks on the phone with S would often be the only respite I got from a truly miserable situation.
My ex went to visit his family for Christmas and left me in the apartment alone. I was saving money for a move to San Francisco instead of visiting my own family. I had spent holidays away before, but midway through the day I suddenly felt the need for tradition and went to grab Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris. And when it wasn’t there, I grabbed the phone with the intentions of distracting myself, but instead broke down and sobbed heavily to S.
The next day she FedExed me her personal copy of the book, inscribed to me.
This copy has accompanied me on numerous Christmases in various cities for years since.