Monday, August 08, 2005

boo babes

*** Saturday in Malibu

Andi was blue

Trishy was pink

Robbie was driving

I needed a drink

Blue skies and salt air

fresh fish and wine

It was just a few hours

but the weather was fine

We wrote a few screenplays

a novel or two

I wanted a murder

any victim would do

A brief stop at Starbuck’s

the surf crowd eclectic

The life of a beach bum

seems curiously hectic

The sunlight turned golden

on houses peach pink and lime

Kept missing those photos

so ~ maybe next time.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

auld lang syne

I got a call from an old friend on Wednesday. She’d sent a card in July in which she said she’d tried to call for my birthday so many times she eventually gave up and thought writing would actually be more efficient. It’s true ~ I rarely answer my own phone. These days I find the idea that someone might want to talk to me alarming for some reason. “Surely no good can come of this…” think I. And often enough, I’m right.

But not always, and this time it was good news; my friend was in Palmdale, visiting her sister and wanted to drive down and spend a few hours with us on Saturday. Would that be alright?

We met when I was working behind the candy counter in a coffee shop in a small tourist town on Long Island. I got the job because my roommate was the boss's girlfriend, and the fact that I had availed myself of this blatant cronyism to land such a coveted position was clearly offensive to the long term employees. There were three waitresses who worked the old-fashioned ice cream and lunch counter that made up the bulk of the business; an older woman named Sheila, her son’s teenage girlfriend, and a brunet named Angela who looked vaguely familiar. No one spoke to me or made eye-contact for the first week or so of my employment, although we worked facing each other not 30 feet apart. It was made very clear that I was persona non grata. But I was 20 years old, going through a particularly rough spot in my life and really needed the job. A little more hostility, I figured, was not the worst thing that could happen.

So it was that I was standing listlessly behind the counter one afternoon, contemplating all the crummy choices that had brought me there, agonizing over those yet to be made and wondering which would seal my fate as a lonely counter clerk, dishing out bonbons to bell-bottomed tourists, surrounded by too many cats and too little money, when the brunet strode purposefully over. “Hi! My name’s Angie. You doing anything after work?”

It turned out to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

She told me later that she figured it wasn’t my fault that no one liked my roommate, and it wasn’t any of their business anyway.. We became fast friends almost immediately, in a way, I suspect, that only the young can. We reveal ourselves to each other in youth in ways and at depths that become more difficult as time goes on; as experience teaches us to shield ourselves more efficiently from judgment, pain and betrayal. Before the walls of defense become impenetrable; calcified. The four years I spent living in that town I spent in large part in her company, part of a small but tight knit circle of friends. We had riotously good times and shatteringly bad ones. We witnessed one another’s dark sides and worst behaviors, and accepted each other in full knowledge of our individual shortcomings. Above all, we were always there for each other, no questions asked. Of the original four, only she and I have stayed in contact. As time went on we both married, and she had two daughters and moved to Florida. We got busy, as people do, but stayed in touch through letters and phone calls. And the occasional cross country pop-in.

She looks just the same, and I knew from the first that some things would never change. That they mustn’t be allowed to. Her husband brought me flowers, we sat down with drinks and appetizers on the patio and had so much to say and complain and laugh about that by dinnertime we knew they’d have to stay the night. Our lives are immeasurably different, but I knew too that no matter who we were or what we became, we would continue to be there for each other, no questions asked. There is a wonderful sense of comfort in knowing that you can pick up the phone at 4:00am and say, “I need a place to stay…” and someone would be there to pick you up at the airport, offer a roof over your head and a shoulder to cry on. And you’d know that this was safe haven because these bonds were forged in a place before the walls went up; before you learned how to be strong enough to keep people out, and lock yourself in.

At breakfast the next morning, as I flipped eggs on the stove, served juice and coffee and got everybody’s order wrong, we flashed back to those days at the coffee shop, when she worked the grill and I was just that girl who looked so strangely sad behind a counter heaped high with chocolate bonbons. Ah, plus ca change…...