Stories of my friends: Therese

I think people underestimate Therese Holmstrom.

Therese comes across as effortless. She dresses nicely, but without fuss, for example. She takes up an appropriate amount of space and is neither mousy nor boisterous. There is a sweetness about her that hides a formidable intellect. And, sometimes, there is a directness about her that hides the sweetness.

She is one of the smartest women I’ve ever met. And one of the most generous. Also, she will call me out on my crap.

This spring, she and her husband are expecting a baby boy (one they are presumably not going to name after me, even though I asked nicely).

I think she will be a tender, wise and loving mother. While still, somehow, being a successful attorney (no, not the kind that makes your eyes roll) and loyal friend.

So, when I say people underestimate her, it’s because I don’t think they see all of her sides. It took me awhile, (the first time I met her, I was high on pain pills and remember very little), but now I know that she likes naps, has good taste in sensible shoes, seems to have kind of a whale thing, likes animals and is articulate and mature.

Her life seems pretty damn good.

Me: Therese, your life seems pretty damn good. Is there anything you would change right now?

Therese: I like this question because it made me realize my life is pretty damn good and I’ve got a lot to be grateful for. Most of the things I would change are things I have control over like my habits and priorities. So I should get on those.

But last month my father-in-law and a good friend of mine both unexpectedly passed away. If I had some ability to change those two things, I would.

Me: So, why the whales?

Therese: I guess it started when I was about 10 and I went on a whale-watching cruise in the San Juan Islands. We didn’t see whales but I convinced my grandparents to buy me a book all about orcas that they were selling on the boat. Orcas aren’t actually whales but that’s sort of how it started. I think it’s cool that both orcas and whales are actually more similar to humans than you would think. They have language and social structures like we do.

Me: What one or two events influenced your life the most?

Therese: The one that comes to mind is a really long event. I spent 5+ years helping to start a co-op brewpub in Austin — Black Star Co-op — and that had a big influence on my life. When I think of life before I did that, I wonder what on earth I did with my spare time. Certainly not anything productive or worthwhile. I’m not saying that starting a co-op brewpub is a noble venture, but it has had impact on a lot of people. It makes me think that I should do something with my life now beyond just work and hanging out with friends. I also met a ton of amazing people.

Me: I think you hanging out with friends is doing something with your life. Do you miss Austin?

Therese: Yeah, but I’m never going to live there again. Well I shouldn’t say never. But one reason I say that is because I miss Austin not just because I don’t live there but because the Austin I knew no longer exists, really, even though it’s only been 8 years since I left. So I don’t see myself moving back there.

Me: How do you feel about socks?

Therese: I feel like I don’t like them as much as you. My sock drawer is mostly just black or white socks. Which is an indication of how I feel about socks.

Me: So they don’t bring you joy?

Therese: No. Oh, but I do have a collection of non- black or white socks that’s in a drawer in my closet that I never open.

Me: Are they fun socks?

Therese: Yeah, they are from back when I used to wear joyful socks.

Me: Don’t get rid of them. I will take them when you no longer want them. Are they thick?

Therese: Yeah. They’re the thicker kind.

Me: Cool. Say something nice about yourself.

Therese: I’m a generous and kind person. That’s pretty generic, though. I think I’m also a good friend, even though you might disagree because I give you crap sometimes. But I think even you would admit that, for the most part, I’m a good friend.

Me: …