Everyone needs a friend like Kim. My first real friend in Seattle, and still one of my truest friends even if we've lived in different cities for years now, I knew she was a keeper the day we went wedding dress shopping. I was a bit nervous; I've never really been much good at the uber-girly stuff and the idea of spending a whole day with a virtual stranger (we'd known each other about a month then, maybe) - a beautiful, blonde stranger at that- having to be polite about her bridal choices and pretending to care about her opinion of mine sounded both intimidating and exhausting.
But then Kim started talking to the Keepers of the Gowns, these insanely coiffeured shop-women with spray-on faces and expressions as fake as their tans. "We're looking for two entirely different dresses" she'd start. "I'm getting married on a beach in Mexico and Sarah is getting married in a castle in England, so she needs something that will coordinate with her husband's green tights - he'll be dressed as Robin Hood".
The first time she did it I opened my mouth to correct her (for all I know, maybe that's what she thought the Brits did at weddings - hats for the women, cross-dressing for the men) and caught just the tiniest fraction of a head-shake. The boutiquistas would stop, look, try to rally, stare at us both again, and then direct us hopelessly to the racks of bouffy meringues to search for ourselves. Victory to Kim.
After a while, this got predictable, so Kim upped the game a little. Entering a dressing area which felt more like backstage at the Milan shows (as if I'd know), we were bidden to remove all footwear. Kim didn't miss a beat. "Has that foot fungus cleared up yet, Sarah?" she asked in her most bell-like tones.
Kim was the first evidence that life in this new country was going to be OK - that we would be able to settle in and find our tribe, because our tribe did, after all exist. And in the end, it was more than OK, and lovely Kimberly is lovelier than ever.
Last week Kim sent me this quote, Jamie Oliver's description of his mother apparently, with a "remind you of anyone?" alongside it. It made me laugh out loud - and realise that it could be me, or it could be her, but it's probably both of us. And it made me happy:
"(...) hilarious. A hundred-miles-an-hour avalanche of energy. She’s superbright and fairly encyclopedic about stuff, but at the same time she’s a complete liability. She just worries and flusters and runs around the place, saying inappropriate things."