I maintain that Sophie’s the best judge of character. If she gives you the thumbs up, I’ll be your friend, too.
So I wasn’t surprised when, within minutes of her arrival, Megan had already been whisked away to Annabelle’s room for a visit with Dr. Sophie, equipped with plastic toys from a half dozen doctors kits we’ve amassed. When I went back to tell the three of them that dinner was ready, Megan was cheerfully rubbing her upper arm. “I’m sick,” she said. “I got a shot.”
Both kids insisted they’d never met Megan, though they’ve each seen her at least a dozen times, on their visits to my office over the last two years. And Megan remembers holding Sophie years ago, when Sophie was a baby and Megan was an intern at New Times.
She wanted to see Sophie one last time before she left town, so we invited her over for curry and a playdate. After her exam with Dr. Sophie, Megan submitted to several games of hide & seek, a dance party and multiple readings of an Elmo book with Sophie, and keyboard practice with Annabelle.
She also endured — with grace — an awkward dinner table conversation:
Sophie: “Ernie died.”
Me: “Yes, Ernie died.”
Sophie: “I die!”
Annabelle (calmly): “Sophie, you’re not dead. You don’t want to be dead. If you were dead, you’d just lay there with your eyes either opened or closed, and you wouldn’t see Mommy or Daddy or me or Megan.”
Me (to Megan): “Hmmm. This is where religion might come in handy.”
I made everyone knock on wood. Megan already had, she said, smiling.
In 15 years at the paper, I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. I’ve said goodbye to some of my best friends and a few of my worst enemies. And in the past five years, as middle management (i.e., an editor), the goodbyes have taken on more weight as the departures either signal relief at losing dead wood or despair at losing a good writer.
But none of the leavings have affected me like Megan’s.
For starters, she quit in an e-mail. That’s akin to breaking up with someone on a Post-It, but by the time I got to the end of the very long note, I was cool with it.
Poor Megan. I don’t think she ever really meant to work at New Times beyond a 6 month fellowship, and from the day she arrived at the paper, I whined that I knew it was just a matter of time before she left me brokenhearted. She’s no dummy. She hates Phoenix. And she grew up in Tucson, which means she’s really not lived anywhere at all, and a couple of semesters’ worth of internships on the East Coast don’t count.
I understand. She wants to see the world — or the equivalent, if you’re a cool twentysomething: Portland, Oregon. I almost called her “hip,” but I’ve banned that word (and the horrendous “hipster”) from much of the writing I’m editing these days, so it’s not fair to use it, but this girl really is hip.
She’s the last (or maybe the first AND last) of an all but extinct species of smart, hard working, stylish, witty young women.
And you can add “compassionate” to the pile. I should have known something was up when Megan’s story list this spring only included social causes. I never dreamed she was about to give up journalism (for good, she says) and go to work for a non-profit, although I could have guessed it would be in Portland. But this is a girl (and really, she is — she’s leaving New Times younger than I was when I arrived) with an old soul — she knows what she wants and she figures out how to get it.
I’d like to be just like her, someday.
I wrote Megan a card when she left, and in it I told her I felt like I was signing the yearbook of a graduating student. As the teacher, I’ll stay behind and wait for the next crop. But there’ll never be another Megan. At New Times, she wrote a lot of hard-hitting intestigative stuff, and some endearing profiles, but her best writing was in a piece I put her up to, in which she visited a bunch of plastic surgeons’ offices and wrote about it:
If you read this, you will say — after you say, “Shit, that girl can write” — “Shit, her editor’s mean. How could she assign THAT?”
I know. But as always, Megan reacted with good cheer and hard work. And for the record, I don’t think I touched a word on that thing. Beautiful.
As a result of that story, Megan doesn’t want any photos of herself on the Web, so I didn’t snap a shot of her with the girls.
But I did take a picture of my mushroom purse, which she compelled me to buy.
On top of her other talents, Megan’s got the most unique personal style I’ve ever seen. She reminds me often of my grandmother, another stylish broad who decorated her kitchen with orange, lime and yellow stripes and her bathroom with those lucite toilet seats with themes — like “golf” and “Las Vegas”. (I’m pretty sure she had one of each.) Don’t ask me to explain, but somehow, Megan reminds me of Gommy. One day she came to the office with a wooden basket purse painted with mushrooms. I swear, Gommy had the same purse, no doubt in the lime/orange/yellow color scheme.
Poor Gommy, she died in 1992, long before ebay. Not me. Within hours, I had successfully bid on my own mushroom purse. I’ve never used it (it’s navy and red, not really my color scheme) and I debated giving it to Megan as a going away present, but I figured it would just take be crap taking up more room in her car, so I decided to keep it.
It’ll remind me of her.