What I think of at three in the morning is never the same at ten o’clock in the morning. The labyrinth of safety and comfort, colliding with the unknown darkness, seems to be the most revealing of emotions. It is also a time that spirals into visual realizations, recognitions, and a time when our mirrors move toward us. Tonight, is about friends.
Friends are bookends that bind our stories; some novellas, some poems, some cinematic, each friend s serves as a bookend to our personal history. When I’ve lost my way and need direction my friends motorize me like a little engine, and when I fly without wings, they ring the bell to come down to earth. At times, arguments arise and my friendships stray, but true-life friends never leave you behind. Sometimes years may pass, and then one day you get a call or an email or send one yourself, and the flushing of that particular squabble in history vanishes. You can start anew; at the same time, it is not.
The essence of friendship never burns out, it is our galaxy, a kind of celestial agility.
Are you experiencing a startling outpouring from friends who’ve left your life only to suddenly show up on your social media or a personal email? Are your friends calling and writing more often than pre-Covid? I’m always examining some unfamiliar events in life, a new trend, a cultural change. We have that now, and conversation, as it has leaped from let’s just talk to all the, don’t go there subjects of 2020. Seems like every topic can be mixed with politics, sometimes the mixture is explosive. I’ve halted the political discussions and so have my friends as they are more important to my livingness than politics.
These new threads of friendship began with a young man I dated when we were in our mid-twenties. He was developing into a businessman, the world was not far from his scope, I on the other hand was cradled by my father’s demands, my freedom limited. Our short story ended; the bookends shelved until one day he sent a message on Facebook with his phone number. The last time I’d seen him was around nineteen-seventy-three. I paddled through the well of memories; his image materialized, he was smiling, joking, driving me around, going places. I could be passive with him; he was a trailblazer. I was content to be in the company of a man who was fearless, exploratory, and a gentleman. Our first phone call lasted a long while because youthful history is crystallized and reigns over the years missed. I find it problematic especially during this pandemic to form new friendships, so the friendship of the past rises like warm muffins in the oven.
In May as the spring yearned to rise from the winter, I received an email that flowered my childhood. Bonny, my playmate, throughout elementary school, as Brownies and Girl Scouts, as synagogue attending students and mischievous little girls who wanted to be dancers, me in Jazz and Bonny in Ballet. She lived just across the street from Bellagio Road school and our escapades often took place in her home. I remember the black and white tile floor, streams of sunlight over the grand piano where her father played and Bonny practiced ballet technique. Even at the age, her discipline and dedication were remarkably striking.
After exchanging emails we had a phone call. The last time I’d seen Bonny was in the 7th grade, bookends that yielded to fifty-four years. Our conversation began in yelps of laughter, astonishment, excitement and the pages of our story flipped from her career with the New York City Ballet, and the San Francisco Ballet, to her marriage and children, and then to her Mother.
“Luellen, hold on my mother is nudging me to give her the phone.”
As soon as I heard her say, “Sweetheart,” her name came back to me.
“Rose! oh my, this is unbelievable. I am so happy Bonny contacted me after reading my book.
“I just finished it. I loved it.”
“Thank you, Rose, I have a question–do you remember much about my Mother?” You’re the only one still alive that knew her.
“Darling, a day didn’t go by that we didn’t talk on the phone. She was such a beautiful person.”
Tears blurred my sight as we walked through some memories. The fifty-four-year absence seemed like five. Since that first conversation, we now speak every few weeks, send emails, photos and our friendship is as sustainable as if we were ten years old.
Sometimes friends get into disputes, not verbal arguments, just an interruption caused by events or circumstances that override the friendship. My closest friend in Santa Fe, I’ve coined Pandora and I relinquished our friendship because of our raucousness when we were serenading downtown Santa Fe. Pandora and I recently liberated from dower circumstances clicked our heels, held hands and skipped through town endowed with our personal feminist characteristics. Then, at some point, we divided as our playtime interred with our work time and five years passed. As it happens during Covid- we recall the best times of our lives. Pandora heard the calling and left me a voice message. Oh, how I rehearsed what I would say, and how much I missed her, in between visual images of us, at the La Fonda Hotel, La Posada, and Santa Café. For one of my birthdays, she arrived with balloons, flowers, champagne, and a bag of presents, that reminded me of my childhood indulgences. I called her back within the hour. Our bookends opened to our shared memories and we both admitted we regretted we let responsibilities divide us. Now, Pandora is within my life and mine in hers. I told her, “I don’t care what happens between us, I’m not going anywhere. “
Photo Pandora with her therapy poodle, Pumpkin visiting patients a at a Santa Fe Hospital. Her blazing compassion for anyone suffering.
When September arrived, the leaves dropped like tears from the trees. I watched from my window, this shedding of a season, and began packing up the summer clothes. As I pulled out the sweater’s boots, hats, gloves, and warm-ups with regret and stubbornness, I am not prepared for a third winter alone. Maybe it will be like this for the rest of my life. These invective fears permeate throughout my days and nights. What I asked for as a writer was time alone, now I have it.
Hours passed like waiting in line in my own mind, how to shift from this sentiment to something promising. I switched from news to emails to social media and then I noticed a comment from a student on Classmates. Com. I am a member as a graduate of University High School in Los Angeles.
We were the graduating class of 1971, one thousand students from the Westside. Some classmates lived so close I walked there after school, some from wealthy influential parents, some in the film business, and some from blue-collar families, We did not judge by color, income, or politics, we just accepted one another. I don’t recall any arguments, attacks, insults, or violence, high school was our second home. I remember the beautiful botanical gardens, the dance studio, the football field, and the front lawn where my gang hung out during lunch or after school.
The comments were touching and so I responded back. I remembered this secret admirer from Junior High and High School. He had a distinctive style, part trendy part individual, he wore hats and paisley shirts, his stride was fast-paced, his hair brown, long and thick that framed a beautiful masculine jawline. He laughed with gusto, his voice was theatrical in tone as it was at one moment pensive and the next comical. He was not part of one particular gang of friends but moved like a party host between many of the circles. To be continued.