Two wakes and a birthday party in one week. It’s enough to really give you pause for thought. One woman was the mother of a co-worker. The other one was a neighbor, not much older than I am now. A friend’s father also just passed this week, and I came to work to discover a coworker’s husband has also died. February has certainly gone out with a lot of loss and change. So it was with a sort of irony that I found myself remembering the life of the departed in the morning and that very evening heading off to a birthday party to celebrate the ongoing of the living. Yin. Yang.
I met my friend K about thirty-six years ago. We did the math the other night during her party. Then we looked at each other and screamed. This does not sound like a real number to me when referencing relationships. It seems so ancient, yet as clear as yesterday. We were lean, leggy women with any possibility waiting to unfold before us. We did not appreciate how cute we actually were back then, always finding the flaws. We hitched our lives onto musicians and lived the perks and pitfalls that tend to ensue in that realm. We moved around a bit, we had our children, we divorced, we had other relationships that blew up in our faces, we kept moving. Throughout this time we have touched base and had a connection to each other’s lives.
K is a very attractive woman. She also has eyes very much like my mother, who was also quite beautiful. I find this fact somewhat haunting and pleasant at the same time. It triggers many pauses and reflections. Whenever I see K, although I can see the obvious changes of age, she tends to still look the same to me because I am seeing her twenty-something self through my twenty year old eyes. She never appears especially “old”. This tends to be the case with most of the friends I have maintained over the long haul.
Her daughter, a wild mustang of a young woman – strong willed, pretty and talented, hosted the birthday party for her mom, inviting both old and new friends to a dinner celebration in her honor. I watched the mother/daughter interaction – their body language, the way they moved around each other, their inherited mannerisms, the way they looked at each other….their dance. Seeing this young woman together in the same space as her mother, so similar and yet not the same, the contrast suddenly manifested itself as quite clear. Suddenly I saw the “outer” K, and then myself, for the true age in years that we have become, parallel to our timelessness. Another piece of who we are. It was a brief moment of dawning comprehension and I actually felt our place in time make a shift. It really is all relative.