I spent most of the day and night today talking with my friend B ~ she turns 18 in a couple of weeks, but her wisdom, sprinkled with smile-covered candor and laughter-infused naïveté, seeped in and gave me some food for thought. Sometimes, when you think you are giving someone a hand, just to move a few suitcases, it turns out they are actually helping you out, moving you, giving you perspective and insight and much-needed laughter.
Today was a beautiful, sunny day, on both sides of the Bay Bridge. Back in Oakland, at L'Amyx on Lakeshore Avenue, we talked with our mouths full, savoring the Milton's toasted Multi-Grain sandwiches as we shared stories about our families, our childhood, our hopes and plans and fears and strengths. It came so naturally, sharing so much with her when I have been unable to confide in so many others lately. Despite our age difference we have so much in common, especially lately. ~ She shared the bubble tea with me and giggled when the boba got trapped in the straw. We went from acting like two little kids playing with their food, to two friends having girl-talk, to two strong women leaning on each other, confiding....confident....weepy and wise all at once. ~ We talked about travel, heartbreak, appearances and facades, and the smoke and mirrors people often build around themselves. ~ The other day she felt the urge to run away, to get away from something, to a place where no one knows her ~ I said I had been thinking the exact same thing ~ she looked up at me, but really right through me, talking to herself more than to me ~ and said,
"It's time to grow up." ~ It's time to stop running away.
I wanted to ask her what I'm supposed to be when I grow up, how I'm supposed to know what to do and where to go next, that I wanted someone to make those decisions for me, to just tell me what to do. But I didn't. I listened a lot, as she told me how some of her life-decisions had been made...by circumstance, by accident, by impetuous choices ~ most of which had worked out in her favor, although not so much lately. I watched her, and felt so much love for her ~ it's overwhelming to me sometimes, to feel that much love for a person, but it just swelled up and I felt lucky to be in her orbit for the afternoon, felt lucky to have the ability to feel that, to still feel that, and felt lucky that it doesn't push her away, even at her age.
Later, we went to dinner ~ we sipped warm chai tea and scooped up Baingan Bharta with naan, back on Lakeshore Avenue while we commiserated some more ~ she told me how people can resent you just for being there for them, just for being strong; she spoke from experience, and she told me about it ~ my realization and sadness mixing with the steam floating up from the chai tea. She mentioned someone's name during the conversation, someone she was thinking about ~ and lo and behold if that person did not call a few minutes later ~ she had not spoken to him in a while ~ and I loved the smile that glowed on her face, and the honesty with which she said simply, "I was just talking about you ~ I want to see you." Her honesty and fearlessness amazed me. The person she once felt she resented just for being there for her, the person she pushed away, was calling and she was glad. It was a sweet moment, and it cheered us both up.
After dinner, we strolled over to the Grand Lake Theater and decided to brave the cheese-factor in "Dan In Real Life." Surprisingly, we both really liked the movie ~ it was sweet, and only a little cheesy, which we decided we could deal with. If for no other reason, you should see the movie for its Soundtrack ~ "My Hands Are Shaking" is sad and true and beautiful ~ and you can't beat seeing "Nasty Girl" by Vanity in a PG-13 rated movie (which brought back memories of law school, but that is another story for another time) ~ and the scene of the family singing around the piano while they wait for Ruthie is pretty damn funny; we giggled despite our best intentions to reject the corniness of it all. But we sat quietly during "Let My Love Open The Door" ~ it's one of my favorite songs and, despite the scene it is in, or maybe even because of it, the lyrics burned right through me ~ but that also is another story for another time, another lifetime.
Tonight, as we walked out, with B's smile as bright as the waning moon above us, as we walked arm in arm past The Serenader, we laughed about the movie and said our favorite lines out loud despite the cheese-factor: "Yeah well this corn is an angel," ~ "Well, go un-hurt them..." ~ "Which one of your sisters told you to say that, Jane or Cara? Neither. I made it up myself. No you didn't; who told you to say that? No one! I'm in the 4th grade!" And my favorite:
Love is not a feeling, Mr. Burns. It's an Ability.
"I love that one," I told her ~ "I wonder when I can use it....?"
"Every Day," she said simply.
~ So. Every Day it is.