Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Hanging In, Hanging On And There You Have It- A Life
When I was coming in from weeding last night to cook supper, I heard the phone ringing. I was too tired to run for it but when I got in, someone was leaving a message so I picked up, clicked on, and said "Hello."
"Mary, is it really you?"
Oh my god. I knew that voice and I know that voice and I will always know that voice, so rich and full like a sob, like a song. It was Anne-Helene and she was calling from Norway where she lives.
I met Anne-Helene in 1987 in Cozumel, Mexico when Mr. Moon and I were there for the very first time. Anne was traveling with a fellow Norwegian, and they were both so freaking beautiful I thought they had to be rock stars.
Turned out that no, they were nurses. Both of them. And were traveling the world just because they could. They were not even lovers, just friends, and had been all the way to California where they'd bought a real American used car- a station wagon- and had driven it to Mexico and ferried it over to Cozumel. Crazy! Crazy gorgeous Norwegians and we became quick friends, driving around the island with them in that boat of a station wagon.
Mr. Moon and I were staying south of town in a Big Fancy Hotel and Anne and Sven were staying in town at a tiny little place called Hotel Pepita for a fraction of what we were paying and it didn't take long for us to pack up, move out of the Big Place and move into Pepita.
I've written about this before and it's here if you want to go there. There's even a picture of Pepita.
We'd meet up for cocktails in Anne and Sven's room every night before we'd go out to get our dinner and we'd meet for breakfast in the morning. We went to discos and danced. We went to the beaches and snorkeled. We went over to the mainland and drove to Tulum in a rented VW through what was then a jungle. We had adventures, y'all! It was awesome. We had so much fun that Mr. Moon and I actually got to the airport to come home a day late. Seriously. We lost track of a day. I mean...really. Is that even possible? Well, yes it is.
And then, because they could, Anne and Sven came and stayed with us in Tallahassee. Sven ended up going back to Norway because he missed his fiancee but Anne stayed with us for six months. She was as close to a sister-wife as I will ever have and I look back on those six months as some of the best of my life. Lily was two years old and whipping my ass daily but Anne took that little girl under her wing and they walked to the mall together and danced to reggae together. Lily watched Anne carefully every morning as she put on make-up and did her hair and I am sure that part of who Lily is these days, which is a magnificent woman, is due to Anne's influence in her life. Lily still says "oof," when she is frustrated, just as Anne did and I laugh every time she does it.
Anne came back and stayed with me when I had Jessie, was there at her birth, and she and one of my brothers even ended up living together for quite some time. She was meant to be part of our family but I haven't seen her in, well, twenty-one years?
So when I heard her voice on the phone I was so happy.
We chatted for awhile. Anne is still living in the same apartment she had when I met her. She is with the man whom she had gone on that around-the-world journey to try and forget all those years ago and she has two daughters by him. She is still a nurse at the same psychiatric hospital.
She goes to Jamaica regularly, that Anne. She loves Jamaica. And she said that next time she goes that perhaps she will come and see me but what she really wants is for us to come and see her.
"Have you come to Europe yet?" she asked me.
"Oh, no," I said, thinking of how difficult it is for me these days just to go to Tallahassee. "I've gotten weird and old, Anne," I said. "I don't like to go anywhere."
"Oh, Mary," she said. "You are the same."
"The same and only more so," I told her. It's true. That girl knows me inside and out. She's that kind of a friend.
I told her about my blog and that she should go there to see pictures of the children and me and Mr. Moon. I talked to her man for a moment. Of course they speak perfect English while I never learned one damn word of Norwegian. Not one. Anne told me that Norway loves our president. That her eighty-seven year old father thinks he is an amazing man. It's nice to have a president now (finally) who doesn't embarrass us every time he opens his mouth, isn't it? It makes us look better and smarter too, which is a good thing, when you think about it.
It was a good conversation and strange to think that Anne was so far away in that tiny country of Norway while I was sitting on my back porch, filthy from weeding, my heart so happy to be talking to her.
And then this morning I opened up my e-mail to find a letter from my best friend from nursing school who doesn't live as far away as Norway but who lives in Colorado, which is pretty far, and as I read it, I could hear her voice, too. Her oldest daughter is about to graduate high school and will be going to college and how can that be? When I met Terry she was nineteen, I was twenty-nine, and now I am fifty-five, Terry is forty-five, the mother of three, still a nurse. Terry told me that I taught her to be a mother- which is absurd- but you know it made me happy to read those words. SHE was with me when I had Lily and I was with her when she had one of her sons.
And I'm just sort of boggling this morning, having been in touch with these two women from my past whom I love so very much. I can remember with perfect clarity seeing both of them for the very first time, Terry twenty-six years ago when she walked into a classroom and I thought, "She looks like someone I'd like to know," and Anne, twenty-one years ago, sitting in Carlos and Charlie's in Cozumel, drinking a beer, so beautiful that I thought surely she must be famous.
Well. It's a Tuesday morning in Lloyd. I am going to town today to help Lily plant some things in her yard and then to stay with Owen for a few hours. I need to go to the grocery store. I need to take a walk. I need to do so much. Every day it seems to me that I only get a tenth done of what I should get done. The house is never entirely clean and the yard always needs work and there is always chicken shit to be dealt with and the garden is never free of weeds and no, I have not been writing regularly and hell- I AM GROWING OLD AND NOTHING IS EVER DONE, NEVER COMPLETED AND WHAT HAS THIS LIFE OF MINE MEANT?
But I look around. I see flowers blooming where there were no flowers before. I see a tidy garden and a strong chicken coop and my lovely hens scratching in the flower beds.
The phone rings and it's someone I have loved for a long time who still thinks about me, who has picked up the phone to call me from Norway. I open my e-mail to find a letter from someone else whom I have loved for so long who still thinks about me.
I don't know what this life means or what it will have meant when I die. No fucking idea.
And maybe it doesn't have to mean anything. It just is what it is.
We walk into a bar- no joke- and we meet someone we will love forever.
We sit in a classroom and lives are changed.
We plod through our lives, we hang on, we hang in, never knowing which moments are going to lead to something we will never forget like a voice on the phone which we know with every cell of our bodies, the sound of that voice opens the part of our heart where we have kept that love for one person and one person only. We read the words that do the same.
We make the meals, we take the trash, we mop the floors, we despair, we glorify, we take in, we breathe out, we let our hearts off their leashes, we sing hello, we sob good-bye, this is it and it is, mostly, and sometimes far more than, enough.