Slices of a past life

(I just read my previous post.  Sorry for all the horrendous grammar and typos but I get interrupted a lot and sometimes I just hit publish without checking or editing.) Anyway, a story about that dinner with those academics and theatre people. In attendance was an old colleague, a female director that I had worked with on a theatre for young audiences  show about dating abuse.  She looked about the same, her hair a little grayer, but recognizable.  At the time I did the show, I was 29 years old.  I believe she had children, at least one daughter anyway and she was the first woman I had asked upon noticing her wide mid section, “When are you due?”  She was not pregnant.  In fact she had had her child about 2 or 3 years before.  Gulp.  Yup, I was that person.  I was mortified.  I still remember that awkward expression on her face.   I find it very ironic that  I was standing in front of her, 50 years old with a 4 year old.  And a belly (which has never been pregnant) which could provoke the same question.  I told her that play and all the people I had worked with meant a great deal to me and still impacted me to this day.  I didn’t get a chance to ask about her children, but I guess they are grown now.  I guess, if I had never adopted my son, I would be there on my own talking and gabbing til late with those Phd’d people comparing my accomplishments or lack thereof.  But here I was feeling happy and content with Boo was actually eating fish and conversing with grownups.

On Easter Monday, my old friend Kathy(alias) came all the way from Hamilton to see me.  I have known her since I was 8 years old.  It was incredible seeing her again.  Oh, man, the older I get, the more I get misty-eyed when I think of people.  Good friends are so hard to find and when you are honoured to have one that just knows  you and loves you anyway, well, that’s just incredible. She posted on FB a pic of us on her wedding day, our waistlines so small, you could wrap two hands around them.   I had so much to say and so little time.  I wanted to carve out a space in time where we could drink wine for hours and catch up on each other’s lives, ask those deep questions, explore dreams and confess things.  As if we could recreate a sleepover experience.  Instead we talked about the one kid we both have.  Hers a teenager, mine a preschooler.  She was encouraging, reassuring me I was doing a good job.  Sometimes that’s something a mum doesn’t get to hear nearly often enough.  I do regret not being there for her when she needed a fellow mother to understand what she was going through.  I would not have understood in the way I do now, my life was so utterly different at the time.  But had I known, I told her, I would have jumped on a plane in a heartbeat.  I once thought I’d be one of those auntie friends who would send her daughter postcards from around the world and I’d buy her a lavish gift for her 18th birthday.  I do appreciate her for being the memory keeper of things I have forgotten.  She even kept our locker notes, the little slips of paper we would slip into each other’s lockers to communicate during school (no cell phones, no texts, we were lucky if our parents let us stay on the phone that was anchored to the kitchen wall).  We share pages in the same yearbooks, and we played viola together in the orchestra.  There still in an ongoing debate on who was the better player.  We walked the same streets, rode the same buses, yearned for more than what we saw around us.  I suppose she already knows this, or she will cause I know she’s reading this, but she has a slice of me that no one else has.  And seeing her, made me feel whole.  I can also say “fuck” to her as many times as I wish.

Above, I talked about a theatre tour that truly impacted my life.  That’s because it’s where I met one of my best friends, John (alias). He is truly one of those bodhisattvas in the world, well, a silly one.  Hard to believe, but there was a time in my life where I was a dopey little vixen in the world  getting drunk every chance I got and running the streets with gay boys.  He was my wing man. When he wasn’t disappearing on me at the end of the night.   He was part social worker (which  is what he did for a while), part actor, part parent, part father confessor, part goofball.  If I could hire him to run my life, I would.   I did get to spend a bit of private time with him, and that was awesome.  He’s so encouraging and wickedly funny.  He calls me Zsa Zsa Buddhist.  And he’d make a hell of a baby sitter, cause he has the soul of a kid and within five minutes, Boo and him were running around squealing.  Almost 20 years ago, he sat me down after a delicious lunch and told me had HIV and I thought my dear friend would be dead within a year.  Instead he demonstrates what it was like to live life with optimism and perseverance in the face of chronic illness.  He’s the one I call when I just need to be reminded that I used to be a dopey little vixen running the streets.

I also spend a brief time with an old dear friend, Dee, who recently moved back to Toronto.  Oh, this is going way back.  We used to work at the CN Tower, back when all it had been the glass floor and it went up and down all day.  She basically looks like  Jamaican version of Tina Turner.  She wore the brightest colours, the boldest lipstick on her ecstatically full lips and laughed wholeheartedly.  She was the sister of my friend who passed away from breast cancer 5 years ago.  They kind of adopted me and I hung around with them trying to copy their Jamaican patois.  It was her sister that got me into her old High Park apartment and her workplace.  Dee shopped with me, teaching me about the ripeness of fruit, showed me how to get the best deals.  I marvelled at her curried goat and rice and peas and she always said I made the best scrambled eggs and apple pancakes.  They both tried to teach me about men because I knew nothing about them.  She and I would talk about our imaginary, some day husbands, and going on vacation together.  She came close I believe, but it didn’t work out in the end.  Oh, my, the talks we would have, the stories that were told.  We danced our asses off to reggae at the Big Bamboo club and brought colour and and raucous laughter wherever we went.  A bit like Sex and the City in High Park.  She still looks the same, older of course, no longer wearing her trademark high heels.  I was never sure of her age, but I’m sure she’s in her 60s.  When she stepped off the streetcar, it was all I could do to stem the tears.  Boo sat quietly in the food court with us while we talked about the aftermath of her sister’s death.  Our time together was too short.  She’s still strong, hardworking, resourceful and funny as hell.  I miss the sound of her voice, her patois when talking to her sister.

I’m sure that if I lived back in Toronto, life would be different, we’d all be busy with our lives and I wouldn’t spend as much time with them, but they’d still be there for me.  I miss them all terribly.  They are truly gifts to me.  I left with the feeling that I wanted to know more of their lives, wished I could be there for them.  I think I would be a better friend to them now, I’ve grown up a lot.  Late bloomer.   My friends were more like family to me and seeing them left me energized, refreshed and beloved.

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8 thoughts on “Slices of a past life

  1. Tears. This is really touched me. It is no surprise that you’ve drawn such wonderful people around you. Even though I’ve never met you in person you are powerful creative spirit. I so understand this just a deep level which I think you know… You and I have a lot in common and those people who raise us– who we give our heart to and who help us through the world. It really is a gift.

    Thanks for this today. I was actually sitting in my car after dropping Zoe off from preschool. I was thinking about my friend and listening to one of the songs that reminds me of her. This was the absolutely perfect time to read this and feel connected.

    Xoxo

    Pam

    • A powerful, creative spirit… thanks for that. Sometimes I forget that when I most of the time I’m doing the domestic thing (that I don’t find creative at all, sorry Martha). Yes, my friends were the ones that raised me…here’s to old friends.

      • Xoxo. And the friends in the computer too. Seems like yesterday I stumbled across your blog. A lucky fold in the universe led me there.

  2. Damn typos! All I do is dictate these days and it always sounds a little bit stilted. But if I didn’t dictate I don’t think I would ever respond or write anything 🙂 xoxo

    • Yep, I just re-read my post and saw all the typos, grammatical errors, whatever. You know what I mean. I honestly wanted to write more, but it would have taken me days and I don’t write at night anymore. You dictate? What? How does that work?

      • My phone has a dictation function so I mostly just talk to it. Sometimes it gets it right but sometimes it gets it really wrong. It’s so funny that the old days poring over the computer clicking through various blogs visiting other blogs reading and then writing on the computer… When I got this smart phone I really didn’t think it would change much at all. But in the years since I’ve had it — I use my computer less and less. Now if I could actually sit down to the computer to do some writing that will be the trick. I’d like to because it’s so much more of an intentional space. It’s just the time. I had been eating my way through grief so most of my spare time is spent trying to regain some semblance of health. Ha ha!

  3. Glad you had a great visit! You know I’m always up for lunch if you are downtown… but sounds like you had a full agenda!! (I know what it’s like whenever I go home to see my family…!)

    • It was a great visit but exhausting and I had to drag my little guy pretty much everywhere on the subway. I totally thought of you but I had prebooked everyone before I left home (and even didn’t let others know I was coming because I just didn’t have time to see everyone)!

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