Imogen has had more reason to hate me, to resent, avoid, and disdain me, than anyone one else (as far as I am aware). Perhaps others have felt they have had reason, but I know that Imogen has had reason.
Many years ago I received some information that I should have passed immediately to Imogen and I didn't. I made that decision at the time out of confusion and uncertainty, and believing that it was the best way for me to deal with a very bad situation.
I was wrong. My decision compounded the already bad situation and also allowed it to continue. Imogen suffered, terribly. When, years later, I finally found the courage to tell her what I had known all along she was, understandably, furious and hurt and betrayed. By not telling her I had become complicit in the original wrong.
For some time I thought that our friendship was over. But instead Imogen did something extraordinary. She forgave me and gave me the chance to earn back her trust.
Since then we have rediscovered the things that attracted us to each other in the first place, our similarities as well as our differences.
We have sometimes frighteningly similar taste. More than once I have bought a new skirt or top only to discover that Immy has something eerily similar. On at least one occassion we have separately purchased the exact same garment. I was given custody of some of Immy's things when she went on mission to Liberia and they fit so beautifully into my home that I could have easily imagined owning them myself.
We also do similar work, in similar kinds of settings, motivated by similar values and driven by similar beliefs. We both find similar aspects of this world (of development and humanitarian work) disturbing and similar aspects incredibly motivating. We've made some of the same mistakes and discovered some of the same truths.
But I have to point out that for all these similarities I think Immy is much more stylish than me, and a much better writer. She is smart in some ways that I would love to be, but have come to accept that I am not. I also find her fabulously funny, which is a quality I value very highly in a friend.
Above all, though, I will never forget what it must have cost Immy to forgive me and to let me back into her life. I will never stop being grateful for this second chance and for the extraordinary friendship that has grown out of it. I have many wonderful friends, but Immy has a very special place in my life and my heart because of the difficult road we trod together to get here.