After one encounter in the ‘80s, the duo has “moved through” their friendship “with respect and regard.”
Our friendship has stood the test of time.
You may have heard me tell the story, which I’ve told often over the years: In the winter of 1976, when Gayle King was a production assistant at the Baltimore television station where I was coanchor of the evening news, a snowstorm prevented her from getting back home to the suburbs. We were colleagues, not friends, but I invited her to spend the night at my place. We sat up and talked till dawn and have been talking ever since.
We’ve never lived in the same city, but we’ve always shared the same values.
For years, people have marveled at our friendship-and sometimes misunderstood it. But anyone who has a soulful bond with a friend, a friend who would do anything for you, who revels in your happiness and is there to comfort you in your sadness, gets it exactly.
In our friendship, they see their own connections. It’s why people often introduce their best friends to me as “She’s my Gayle.”
Gayle is having a rising moment right now. After years of doing local television, including 18 years at WFSB in Hartford, she has finally stepped into her pinnacle role.
Gayle adores all things news and pop culture. She reads multiple magazines and newspapers. Her bag is stuffed with articles she’s saved or tidbits she’s torn out to share with me. Her television is rarely off. She delights in devouring information that is culturally relevant. And she loves passing it along. The fact that she’s experiencing such recognition and success for doing what she’s always loved fills me with pride and joy.
I know for sure: It’s the same pride and joy she’s always felt for me.
I believe God put the two of us in each other’s path to do exactly what we’ve been doing since that night in Baltimore when I was 22 and she was 21. Listening. Listening. Talking. Listening. Laughing (a lot). Building dreams. Standing in the gap. Cheering. Being a shoulder to cry on. Supporting. Speaking the truth. Being the truth!
And the reason it’s worked all these years, without arguments or fallouts, is that we’ve always each been happy with our own lives.
Now that Gayle’s a shining star on CBS This Morning, people often ask her how she felt being in the shadow of my success. The truth is, she always felt not a shadow, but the light. We couldn’t have remained friends if she’d perceived it as a shadow. I would have sensed that, and I wouldn’t have been able to be as open.
A true friend can’t be jealous of you, or want to take advantage of you in any way.
Another story I’ve told a few times: Once, back in the ’80s, when Gayle was visiting me in Chicago for the weekend, I went to put on my coat and was surprised to find a wad of bills in my pocket. I counted: $482.
“You want it?” I said.
She shook her head. “No, you keep it.”
Years later, and I mean like a full decade, she reminded me of this moment and told me how she’d gone home thinking about all she could have done with that cash. Paid her electric bill. Bought groceries. Filled the gas tank.
“Why didn’t you say something?” I implored.
“I didn’t want you to ever think I was out to get something or take advantage,” she said.
And so we’ve moved through our friendship with respect and regard.
When Gayle got the call to go to CBS, she was working for OWN and didn’t want to leave for fear that the perception would be that even my best friend was abandoning “the struggling network.” I insisted, though: “You must take that job. You’ve been preparing your whole life for it.”
When she was a young girl, her father used to sit her and her sisters in front of the TV to watch the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. That’s where she got the bug, and now she’s come full circle.
Her circle completes my own. I always believed that she sacrificed a lot of her heart’s desire to make sure this magazine, the one you’re reading right now, became successful. She left her job in local TV in 1999 to come work for O. She was at O during 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Virginia Tech shooting, and the historic 2008 elections, and I know she was yearning for a newsroom. To be right in the heat, sharing the information live. For 12 years, she missed that.
Now she’s right where she’s longed to be, and where she belongs. She offers the news of the day and still has the brightest outlook of anyone I know. We’re all aware by now that yellow is her favorite color. I’ll tell you this: No matter what glasses she’s actually wearing, she’s seeing the world through sunny-colored lenses.
The boundless positive outlook; the more-is-more approach to necklaces; the love of a great burger, a warm doughnut, a cupcake with yellow frosting; the apparent familiarity with every pop/rap/country/R&B song on Apple or Spotify; the endless curiosity-that’s my Gayle. And no matter how many ventures or adventures we undertake-whatever life has to offer-we’ll be in each other’s corner. Solid. Timeless. Forever.
Text & Photos: oprahmag.com