Thursday, September 23, 2010

An Ode to Ailsa Woodhouse

I have known Ailsa since we were both exchange student living in Germany in 1998.
Lucky for both of us I don't have any pictures of our 17/18 year old selves on my computer! Instead I just have gorgeous pictures of her I steal from facebook!

Here's the most fun fact about Ailsa for most people reading this blog--She's from Australia! I know! I mean, I have never been to Australia and neither have most of the people I know. She may, actually, be my furthest away friend, and definitely wins the award for the donation that has traveled the farthest!

So Ailsa and I met over a decade ago when she and I were both Rotary Exchange Students in Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Since she came from the other side of the world, she came in January of my exchange year (that had started in August) and we overlapped for about 6 months. In the small town of Wilhelmshaven, all the exchange students knew each other. And Ailsa and I went to the same school (at least I remember it that way...? Maybe I've forgotten!) Even then I remember being envious of Ailsa and her "try it, why not?!" attitude! Perhaps this is an Australian trait, but it certainly isn't Minnesotan or New Yorker! To be able to experience life in all its small and innate beauty as it floats by, not grasping too hard, but enjoying the pleasures as they come, and searching out the light when it seems there is none to be found.

There's a picture that I do have somewhere in my parents basement from that time, during Wilhelmshaven's unseasonal snowfall. On rare occasions snow will fall on this coastal town, and during my exchange year it did. Now to a Minnesota girl this was a familiar thing, but Ailsa had never seen snow! Imagine, somewhere in the world where there is no snow! And she knew no German when she arrived--I remember her telling us that in her school in Darwin, Australia, the languages they taught were Japanese, Chinese and Indonesian (though I could be wrong, I don't even remember if we went to the same school...!) She was a strong and independent girl, with a big and beautiful smile and a "Why the heck not?!" attitude. I was envious of her ease, grace and happiness.

Sadly I have never been to Australia to visit and never had a chance to cross paths with Ailsa the few times she's crossed the ocean to North America. Maybe soon. Maybe after I get my first big Broadway break and actually have an income that can afford trans-atlantic travel... But she is still one of my dearest friends and allies.

And who doesn't want someone cheering you on from half way across the world?! Those cheers have to get a lot of velocity while they travel all that way.

I am grateful for you, Miss Ailsa Jane. :)

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