Up until this weekend I have been focused on our move to Phoenix — looking forward with both hope and trepidation to a new start in a new place. But in the last two days I have been feeling deeply sad at what we are leaving behind.
Who we don’t see often enough and often take for granted
Melle Belle and Joe Henry
Thursday I was able to spend an entire lovely afternoon with my friend Melanie. Melanie has a very busy life. The hours we spend in each other’s company are few, but treasured. Melanie who calls her husband by both his names, as in “Joe Henry would like to see you before you leave,” and asks after Danny with “and how is your man?”
Melanie who expresses herself uniquely, wears her heart on her sleeve and is truly the kindest, most compassionate person I know. She and “her man” are the essence of quirky cool. Melanie, with her distinctive designer-hippie style. (I won’t say crunchy-granola because that earned me a punch in the arm in the dressing room the other day). And Joe with his signature pompa-do and his passion for spiffy shoes and jackets.
They serve me tea (Melanie) or espresso (Joe) and allow me to cry at their kitchen table. They feed me comforting kindness (Melanie) and enlightened philosophy (Joe). I am inspired by Joe’s music and the way his songs capture life’s poignant moments, turning pain into poetry. I appreciate way he enhances the unique essence of other exceptional artists for the whole world to hear.
Mel and Joe let me babysit their magnificent mansion while they are away, and in that peaceable kingdom where I enjoy space and art – music and light, I have had the distinct privilege of listening to the sound of Lucretia Garfield’s footsteps as I fall asleep.
Melanie and Joe, you will be missed.
Last night we celebrated Danny’s last day at work and last weekend in LA with dinner at Mi Piace some of our favorite people.
Bill and Carol
Bill is my oldest friend in LA. We worked together in the corporate communications department of The May Company way back in 1982. I think our friendship used to make Danny nervous, but that was before Danny made Bill into one of his best friends. Now the two of them plan outings (usually to see a movie in which stuff blows up) without consulting or including me. Now I understand how Bill felt the time I called and said “Hi Bill, can I talk to Carol?” and he said, “but you used to be my friend.” We are still friends to the both of them, though we don’t see them nearly enough.
Bill is a big silly. He always makes me laugh. Early in our friendship Danny said to me “that Bill chats like a girl,” which is true and probably why we are such good friends. I’m not speaking of his demeanor, okay maybe a little bit, but his ability to endlessly discuss things other than sports. But as much fun as Bill is, he is also the perfect person to go to for the really important stuff.
Important stuff is something Bill knows a lot about. Bill is a psychologist who trains military chaplains embedded with the U.S. Navy Seals, how to help with psychological trauma in the field. See what I mean? Important stuff.
And Carol. I admire her opinions. She knows where she stands and she will tell you with great conviction where that is. Me, I listen and watch and wait and three years later I make up my mind. Maybe. The world needs people like Carol to keep things moving along. I suspect she keeps Bill moving along, otherwise, he’d mostly chat and laugh. Carol’s laugh comes from up from her toes. When Carol laughs, so does everyone else, and with Bill at the table there is plenty to laugh about.
Bill and Carol, you will be missed.
Lori and Lenny
We have kids the same age who kindergartened and GATEd and graduated together. That has kept us in close proximity for a lot of years. Like Carol, Lori is one of those people who keeps the world in general, and her family in particular, moving in the right direction. Lori gently coaxed me into a lot of school projects which I agreed to reluctantly but for which I was later grateful. I am pretty sure it was Lori who said, “let’s do a USO show,” and boy did that snowball into something; something enormous, yet gratifying.
Lori has always been my go-to person for matters related to school and community. Like Carol she has strong opinions and knows where she stands. If I brought up a school-related topic Danny would ask, “Well, what does Lori Rusch think about that?”
When I talk to Lenny (which was often at Bingo – don’t ask – it’s something Lori got me involved in) my brow is often furrowed in consternation. Lenny tells a good story. It’s usually about Lenny and something he has done recently. My first response is usually, “You did WHAT?” and my second is “Why?” If you know Lenny, you understand this completely.
In addition to his straight job, Lenny is a potter and conceptual artist. His work is less about the outcome than the experience of making it. Don’t ask Lenny what that art piece is about unless you really want to know, because he will tell you, and for a very long time. But I am happy to listen, and furrow my brow and say “uh-huh,” because Lenny has an unusual take on the world, and while I don’t always understand him, he is mighty amusing.
You can find Lenny doing something someone his age probably shouldn’t be doing at Burning Man.
Lori and Lenny, you will be missed.
I met Mary when our kids were in nursery school together. We both had boys who retreated into the comfort of their clothing. For Julian, it was his red Mickey Mouse sweatshirt. For Alex it was his green Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pajamas. There is something very special about the bonds you cement when raising toddlers. It takes good friends to get you through that. Our toddlers and our teens both presented us with a variety of challenges, and we got (and are getting) through them together.
Mary brings elegance and grace to every gathering. She rarely arrives without a beautifully wrapped gift or a special note. When she asks you a question, you know that she is truly interested in your answer. No matter what is going on in her life, there is always room in hers for yours. She sees the best, and brings out the best in others.
Mary has a new man in her life who is bringing the best out of our Mary. It’s lovely to see her so radiant.
Mary, you will be missed.
There are more good-byes to come
My ANS trio. My Yahoo pals. My Mom-Anons. My writer’s group.
My life is so much richer because of all of you.
You will soon be out of sight, but you will never be out of mind.