In almost all of my friendships, I'm the more outgoing of the pair. The exception was Amy. She was from Indiana, and when she arrived in New York, this fresh-faced, corn-fed fashion plate made an impression. Amy was brilliant and bold. She wrote about fashion and culture. We were the same age, yet Amy was more mature, sophisticated, and cosmopolitan. On assignment in Paris she adopted a miniature pinscher she christened Cliché, the name Dorothy Parker—the patron saint of aspiring female writers in New York—gave to her little dog. Compared with Amy, I felt like I just fell off the back of the turnip truck. My family has been rooted in New York City for generations, but she seemed . . . New Yorkier. Some people are just born New York, regardless of the geography of their birth. Amy was born New York.
We met through mutual friends and immediately hit it off. When you join an online dating service, you're matched with a potential partner because you both like the same things. I was drawn to Amy because we both disliked the same things. She hated whining, sentimentality, hypocrisy, the inability to take a joke, and above all dishonorable behavior. I found in her a kindred spirit. We bonded early through a shared grudge against a fashion editor who'd done each of us a bad turn. I got mad. Amy got that woman's job. She was one of the youngest editors ever hired at the New York Times. I always thought of myself as bold, but Amy was bolder.
We also shared bad luck in the health department. Amy and I were struck in the same year with acute illnesses: I had a neurological condition, later identified as sarcoidosis, and Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer. Our hospitals were across the street from each other on the Upper East Side, Amy at Memorial Sloan Kettering and me at New York Hospital/ Cornell Medical Center. We would crank-call each other's rooms and play tricks on our medical teams, such as wearing fake mustaches and false beards during the morning rounds to get a rise out of the interns. We bought remote control fart machines and hid them in each other's rooms to mess with doctors and visitors.
Like good journalists, Amy and I made it our mission to investigate our new surroundings. We'd heard there were secret underground tunnels that heads of state and other dignitaries used to travel between the two hospitals, so we started a competition to see who'd be first to successfully bribe an orderly to wheel her to the VIP catacombs. And we pestered the staff for information about the famous socialite Sunny Von Bulow. She'd been in a persistent vegetative state for decades, and Amy was convinced she could track Sunny down in the warren of high-end suites.
When we got out of the hospital we lived our lives, managing our illnesses, our careers, and our love lives. We both saw the same psychiatrist, who specialized in treating women with serious medical issues. Amy and I both met great guys around this time, and despite the $300-per-hour disapproval of the psychiatrist, we both got married.
Our husbands became friendly, so Amy and her husband came to visit us at our farm in Connecticut. After her health scare, she decided to fulfill her dream of owning a country house too, because why wait? Amy and her husband bought the lake house I had found for them in the next town over, and our friendship grew.
Unfortunately, friendship wasn't the only thing growing. I discovered that I had a blue-ribbon bunch of tumors on my uterus right around the time Amy learned that her cancer had spread to her brain. We found ourselves neighbors once more, though not in the bucolic Connecticut countryside. We were back in the Upper East Side medical complex.