Sorah the Explorer – Part One
“Oh my god- I love you!”
That was the first thing I can remember Sorah Lee ever saying to me. I’m pretty sure it was immediately after handing her a shot of something delicious and alcoholic before I had even gotten her first name. I blushed, not knowing how to respond to my new co-worker behind the bar’s affections.
“Aw, thanks. I love you, too!” Is how I responded to this virtual stranger before me.
We giggled at our new-found friendship, and it was then that I first heard the infectious, boisterous laugh that Sorah could have trademarked, bottled, and sold in stores–it was that magical, that charming, and that endearing.
We clinked our glasses together and tossed one back in celebration of whatever event we were working that night and to– little did we know at the time–a friendship of five years and a connection with someone that I’ve never, ever felt with another person. Maybe because there will never be anyone like her again.
Sorah was an explorer. Sorah was an adventurer. She was someone–nay, perhaps the only one–who understood my extreme case of wanderlust, just as I understood her wanderlusty disposition in return. The two of us were always looking for an adventure. Always looking for a new country to visit and a cheap vacay to snatch up before they were gone. Every Wednesday when travel deals came into my email, I would scour through the amazing adventures and experiences all over the world. When I found a bargain journey that wasn’t too outrageous but that seemed like a “me and Sorah fit,” I would excitedly share the details with her. Most people would look at the specials and say “3 nights in a naturally heated lagoon watching Aurora Borealis at night in Iceland? No thank you!” Or: “Riding as a passenger in a cargo ship just to get to Cuba? Ridiculous!”
Sorah, on the other hand, lived for life’s miscellaneous opportunities. I can just hear her now:
“Copenhagen round trip for $543?! That’s crazy. I had no previous desire to go to Denmark, but for that cheap, we should just buy them! Now! $1390 for a 10 night camel escorted trip in Morocco? I’m so down! Thailand hit on the beach for $5 a night? F%}^ yeah!!!”
We really should have just bought those silly tickets–whatever they were and to whereever far away land that had suddenly become more accessible to us. But we didn’t. And now there are no more travel opportunities for Sorah the Explorer and Mr. Wanderlust. It breaks my heart to think of the “what ifs” and “if onlys” that she and I could have undertaken together. What hurts the most is knowing that my fellow culture aficionado and my travel buddy has taken her last trip without me–And we will never be able to actually go on any of the crazy adventures we so dreamed about. Now that she is gone, I’m terribly sad thinking about all of the places we wanted to go to but no longer can venture to together.
It’s difficult to accept that someone like Sorah is gone when they are taken from us too soon. Death is never easy, but losing someone as magnificent as Sorah Lee is truly a devastating loss to all of humanity. She was like a beautiful flower that was always in full bloom all year long. Her personality was warm and hilarious–she never missed a beat with her devilish wit or cheeky sense of humor. Probably because she was one of the smartest people I have ever met. She was well read and well traveled, but Sorah was also what I would call well-peopled. She loved everyone from all walks of life, loved exploring new cultures, and loved making new friends all over the world. Like the colonial British Empire before her, the sun never sets on the vast network of Sorah’s family all over the world.
Her zest for life was so infectious that people just wanted to be around her, like I did. Sure she was open, kind, and intelligent, but I feel what really drew people into her was this aurora and energy that she had that can never be substituted or replaced.
She was a stalwart friend and a fierce ally who always concerned herself with what was going on in your life. Sorah loved people and was always invested in their lives. She was proactive and championed equality for everyone including supporting myself and lgbt rights in her home state of Oklahoma and in the US.
Sorah had insisted nearly every time that my mother visited California that she wanted to meet the matriarch of my family. One of our last times hanging out ever, as it turns out, was a lunch on the boardwalk in Venice just so Sorah had the chance to meet my mother. We stopped and inhaled vapors at an all vapor bar after we ate–something none of the three of us wanderlusters had ever experienced before. Upon saying goodbye, Sorah leaned in to my mother to give her a big hug.
“It was so great to finally meet you,” Sorah said to my mom, as if the two of them had been pen pals for years before finally arranging a meeting. My mom was thrilled to have met her, and said of my friend that she was “neat”, “special”, and that she “seemed like she is an incredible woman.”
My mum couldn’t have nailed it on the head any better: Sorah was special. And was an incredible woman. As we said goodbye to Venice and our lovely lunch, Sorah grabbed me, hugged me, and reiterated the same first words she had said when we first met:
“I love you!”
I only had 5 years with my friend Sorah, and I realize that our time was cut way too short now that she has passed. Can any of this writing actually summarize who my dearly departed friend was and the impact she made on my life and the countless amount of others? Are there enough words to describe the writer, the warrior, the compassionate, the hilarious, the wise, the sensitive, the conscious, the healer, the guidance counselor, the friend, the lover, the daughter, the traveler, the adventurer, the best friend, the confidant, and the amazing being that was Sorah the Explorer? I don’t think there are enough words or enough tears to bring her back. Or to begin to illustrate what this world has lost now that she is gone.
All that is left now is the immense amount of love and affection that she gave toward everyone in her life and an extreme sadness felt by those once warmed by her light. She made every moment that she was in my life better. She was truly a person who knew how to live life for today, who knew to not take anything in life for granted, and someone who knew how to enjoy every moment that we are blessed in living.
to be continued…
Photograph by Jamie Forrest