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She and I were born on the same day. September the Fourth. She in New York City and me in Los Angeles. We met twenty-three years later close to the middle in Montana. I don’t remember the first time we talked or hung out exactly but we became fast friends. She has taught me so much about living, and forgiving, and laughing, and crying and all of it. She encourages me to try things. With her I have climbed mountains, completed a triathlon, and even participated in summer biathlon. Our husbands just roll their eyes when we get together and usually we kick them out of the bed and we take over talking into the early hours of the morning. We have so many inside jokes and monikers for each other. Handwritten letters are her specialty. Being smart and thoughtful and fun and charitable are her traits. She is perfect.

I went to see her in July. She moved to Maine 3 years ago. In 72 hours we accomplished an amazing amount: The Boston Freedom Trail Run, Minuteman National Park, Church, a long nap, whale watching, blueberry picking, walking in the woods, lighthouse visiting, Victorian Mansion touring, ice cream eating, movie watching, local shopping and kayaking. Now, for as long as I can remember some crazy thing happens to one or both of us everytime we are together. We set out one evening into a glass water bay in borrowed kayaks. We chatted and paddled, watched birds, observed crabs and seashells, maneuvered around lobster traps, floated around tiny islands, hastily telling the stories of our lives since we had last seen each other. And then out of the mirror-surfaced liquid a giant fish completely breached the water not six feet from us. I instantly recognized the flat, white bottom and oval tipped jaw. I immediately started chanting “I am not afraid of sharks, I am not afraid of sharks” We looked dumbfounded for any sign of the creature and excepting a few remaining ripples the water was returning to its previous calm. We asked each other if this is like seeing ‘Bigfoot’ in our Montana mountains, “Do you tell anyone?” “Would they believe you?” We finished our excursion and making our way home looked up what it could have possibly been. Dogfish (sand shark) maybe, but they rarely reach 4′ and this was at least that big. She asked the kayak owner and he said there had been talk of a shark in the bay. The local lobster men said it was probably a Mako. They breach — sometimes landing in boats. A MAKO! I’m sticking with Mako. It makes the story better. The picture above is a pretty accurate reinactment of the shark encounter. (Wink)

Happy Birthday, from your friend, the English Teacher.