|Hyacinth Blue of Kate’s dress|
Some days rewrite themselves. That doesn’t happen often in my life. Pretty much, I have my calendar, I make appointments, show up for my appointments, then move through a punch list of what I need to accomplish to feel like I am contributing to the world in some, perhaps barely measurable, way.
Today was a rewrite. My friend, Kate, texted me at 7:06 a.m.. She was going to be off-Island, would I consider seeing her today? She could come to Providence. I felt like I did when I was a kid and heard the radio announcer list the names of the schools that were going to be closed for a snow day…..how I whooped and hollered when I heard my school’s name listed among the school closures. Kate used modern technology to deliver a snow day….in August.
I scurried around my 550 square foot apartment. I was not picking up. It pretty much stays “picked up.” I powered through a list of correspondence that needed to be written, bills to be paid and birthday cards to get out on a timely basis. I had 22 things to do on my TO DO list. I went back to the sage advice of a checkout girl who bagged my groceries at Stop and Shop once. Years ago, she told me that you can make any kind of list you want, but you should feel like it was a good day if you finished three things on that list. This gem of wisdom was something she said she learned in a school that helps developmentally challenged people learn and take on jobs. I told her I would always remember her. Six years later…her advice stays with me. My To Do list of 22 was quickly whittled down to 19 with a few phone calls (to reschedule my trip back to the Island), a sharp knife (I made a massive bowl of fruit salad) and twenty-two minutes (I am making a conscious effort to meditate for a minimum of twenty minutes every day and keeping a log to see how Zenned out I really become with devoted regularity to the process).
When my cell phone rang, and Kate announced she was downstairs, I bolted out the door after throwing my keys around my neck. Those keys seem to have the capacity to disappear if I do not wear them. Kate was in the lobby and she looked beautiful. She was wearing a flowing, hydrangea-blue sundress and a necklace to match. Her long. blond hair reminded me of corn silk that is so abundant at this time of the year. When I think of the word “happy,” Kate comes to mind. She is, without an iota of doubt, the most optimistic, upbeat, “The -Sun -Will -Come- Out-Tomorrow” person I have ever known. And yet – as hard as this might be to believe - she is not the least bit annoying or obnoxious with her positivity. The way she wears her attitude is integral to who she is. It is not forced, feigned, or ever inappropriate. Well, maybe once, but really, with a record like that, how could I not treasure her as a friend? She is able to see things inside out, upside down, from a wholly new perspective. Kate’s ability to do that enriches the way I go about thinking about my own life and the challenges I sometimes face.
Kate is mad about her grown sons – and has every reason to be so. The boys each, in his own way, have followed paths into adulthood that are consistent with their passions. Kate and her husband Joe, succeed in raising some pretty special young men. On the rare occasions that the entire family is together, Kate surrenders to the joy of having the three men she loves most home and within her immediate reach. Even the thought of their impending departure can make her miss them.
Kate and I decided to spend our time together by having a light lunch that is lounge –friendly. I have started to identify restaurants that have sofas, booths or some kind of seating that I can bear for half and hour or so. We wanted to forego the wheelchair thing because it makes it so much more of an event. We walked over the Providence Place Mall, chatting incessantly the entire way. We would start a sentence, jump to another, circle back around to finish the first, then bolt for an entirely new topic. P.F. Chang’s did not disappoint. When we entered the Providence Place Mall, I had my list, she had hers.
My list had eleven items on it. Hers had one. I received a new magazine (free) in the mail. It touted numerous beauty products that I felt certain could only help. Mascara, for instance. I do not own any. A small makeup brush. A gift I saw for a friend last week and I wanted to circle around for it again this week. Kate had a single replacement needed in her loungewear drawer. I had a coupon for a free pair of knickers from Victoria’s Secrets. The line at Victoria’s Secrets at 1pm on a Tuesday was LITERALLY almost out the door. No sale. Two sales clerks ringing up. What is it America? Are we desperate for lingerie? (I did become enamored with some of the softest sweat pants. Soft Clothes – that topic is reserved for another posting) To my disappointment, Nordstrom’s did not have the products I sought. Sephora used to, but discontinued the sale of all of the vendors on my list. I did get to sample Versace’s Bright Crystal, which Versace describes as “ A sweet floral scent with fruity, musky accents. With scents of pomegranate, yuzu, frosted accord, peony, magnolia, lotus, plant amber, musk, and mahogany.” A tester of Michael Kor’s Very Hollywood has been kicking around in my travel bag for six months. Now that it is gone, I am missing what Michael Kors identifies as its “ blend of creamy amber, wet jasmine, soft white moss, iced bergamot, gardenia, orris, raspberry, vetiver, mandarin, ylang-ylang.” I came home and ordered it on Amazon.
My energy was lagging. It cannot be possible to explain how fast and unconstrained our conversation was. As we wove through the mall, our conversation wove through our lives. Advice, observations, thoughtful suggestions and lots and lots of golden linings were exchanged at record pace. Frankly, I was plain tuckered out.
The last item on my list was a Ralph Lauren skirt I had eyed for a friend last week, hoping for a sale. No sale.
I found a Medium among the four remaining skirts and took it up to the register. I was concerned because it seemed like an excessively large medium. A pleasant customer checking out before me attested that she wears medium and the skirt would be too large for her. Kate went back to look for a small. She returned with a pin. I said, “What’s that from?”
She said, “There’s a size small on the mannequin. The rest are all medium.”
I was two minutes away from it being my turn to check out and escape malldom. I was not going to wait in another line this afternoon. I was weary and wanted to go home. I took the medium skirt and left Kate at the counter. I thought Kate was trailing behind me as I marched over to the perky-breasted brunette mannequin. In twenty seconds flat, I had disrobed the mannequin. The skirt, full length, was in a puddle on the floor. What I had not accounted for was her extreme WEIGHT. For a Barbie-thin figure, she sure had some heft to her. I couldn’t lift the mannequin and pull the skirt out from under the stand simultaneously. When I realized my predicament, I laughed so hard that my head was swiveling left and right looking for a restroom. I just didn’t want to drop Ralph Lauren’s gal. The entire incident was of Seinfeld comedic proportions. “Kate, Kate,” I called. Several woman stared at me, laughing nearly hysterically, skirt on the ground, woman on my shoulder. Kate heard my summons, raced over and helped me swap out the small for a medium. I returned the mannequin to her position guarding the Ralph Lauren collection. I concede, she might have had just a little bit too much mid-drift showing because Kate lost the pin that was holding up the skirt when the outfit had first been staged. Such are the risks of department store fashion. Presently, I am icing my shoulder because it is protesting the firemen’s carry I employed to obtain the size small for my friend. I really hope she likes it.
Kate and I took a cab home (my treat). She was game to walk another mile but that adventure and the raucous laughter we enjoyed were both tiring and satisfying for me. I longed to be back in my little den. Kate realized she had to hit the road in order to catch boat back to the Island.
Kate is among the wonderful blessings that populate my life. She accepts that I am exactly who I am, how I am. She is not ruffled that I regularly drop books into the bathtub, that I love to bake goods even if I am the only one to eat them, that some days are harder than others for me. She pushes me to think outside of the box, implores with me to consider the idea of trolling on EHarmony, suggests that I attend moreconcerts, take in new installations at RISD, listen to free community lectures at Brown. Her point to me is to soak up as much of Providence as I can. She knows exactly how long winters can be on Martha’s Vineyard. And honestly, best of all, she knows I would welcome her 7am phone call suggesting we play hooky on a mid-summer day anytime.
The day granted us time together; an unexpected bonus was finding ourselves in a Lucy and Ethel skit that surpassed our best expectations for how a snow day in August might be spent.