Long time friends – never old!

When Mother died, I had lots of changes coming. I’m working them through one by one, not necessarily sequentially, sometimes overlapping the threads of one task with the tasks of another project.

I came to live with Mother 12 years ago now, and I’ve already told you about that, and about how the house had to sell because there were four of us inheriting (one should be so lucky) and how we couldn’t buy back into our own district, so expensive the Real Estate market has become.

I hedged against this day where I would have to find a new place, those many years ago, by contacting my friend from my first teaching days. She had been the secretary in the first school I taught in but she had moved on to Real Estate. For these many years, the love she has for meeting people and in helping them find the right home or apartment has kept her interest high.

Lina found me an apartment, those twelve years ago, in a quiet part of Richmond. It overlooks the back of another apartment complex property that is treed and airy. The apartment is large and full of light and dappling shadow. It’s like being in a small part of heaven. It’s a little bit like living in a very comfortable tree house.

The other thing I may not have mentioned so far because in this fluid story, I was kind of keeping it for an ending and now I will have to find a different ending – I bought a house! This house is out in a suburb about an hour’s drive east of Burnaby and it is right next door to Mrs. Stepford. She’s my artist friend (suburbanlife.wordpress.com) and she let me know when it came up for sale. I fell in love with it on the spot and the rest is a story waiting to happen.

Now I’m mortgaged up to the hilt until I can sell the apartment I’ve been renting for the last 12 years while I looked after Mother. So, who do I call? Not ghostbusters…. but my wonderful friend, former secretary, now seasoned Real Estate agent and we looked at the place and what needs to be done with it, and how much I can expect to get from it, and how fast it can sell, and all that stuff.

Afterwards we shared a few laughs about how we met. There was Lina sitting behind the counter in the high school office, calm looking but going berserk with first day madness. This young thing sashayed up to the counter and stood drumming her fingers on the counter waiting for someone to pay her attention. She was wearing a loud scarlet wool dress with a royal purple band eight inches deep on the hemline which announced her hippie leanings and her position as the new Art teacher. It buttoned right up to her neck and the collar was purple too. The red sleeves came right down to the purple cuff at her wrists. The dress, Kay can tell you, prompted many of her students to ask her if she was pregnant, but it was simply a full A-line dress. It’s a pity there are no pictures of it. Kay thought it was magnificent.

Lina looked at this long haired teenager, raised one very English eyebrow and said simply “Yes?” thinking all the while, who is this brassy specimen?

“Where are my receipt books?” demanded the specimen. (Kay does not remember being quite so rude, but that’s Lina’s side of the story). Kay had been obliged to collect money from her home room class and from every art class. Without the receipt books, she could hardly fulfill her duty. For a first day, that was practically the only function the home room teacher had!

“We don’t have receipt books,” came back the answer in a frosty English accent.

Under her breath, but audibly so, Kay the specimen, marched back out of the office muttering disgustedly, “Bloody secretaries and custodians! They run this place! ” Kay had also had a run in with the custodian about some cleaning issue. A fine first day this was turning out to be!

Further than that, we can’t remember. Just that we were equally dismayed at meeting each other. Somehow over the two years that we worked together we forged a connection so strong that these “x” number of years later we are the best of friends. We may not see each other every day, may spend years as it has been this last time, and yet when we see each other it’s as if nothing has changed. We can tell each other anything, commiserate over our failures, hug each other over successes, gossip for a good hour or two, and then maybe not see each other for a long, long while.

We got to trading stories. I countered with the first time she invited me to her apartment situated in the top level of a house . She was on her second marriage, this time to a very quiet Japanese-Canadian engineer. I chuckled in reminding her that David came home while we were having tea and he hadn’t done something that she had asked him to do. Wish I could remember because the severity of the fault seemed small to me. Whatever it was, they had some angry words with sharp but not raised voices, since David was so quiet. He turned on his heel, walked back out of the apartment and down the back steps. She grabbed a glass from the kitchen counter, followed him out and threw the glass after him. It shattered in a thousand pieces.

Lina laughed with me over that one, saying, “I turned around and looked at your innocent face. Your mouth was agape. Your eyes were just popping!. You’d never seen anything like it. You must have wondered what kind of woman you had made friends with!”

We were cracking up with laughter. “I tried it out on Franc once. But I never did again. I had to clean up all the mess. It just wasn’t worth it. All those glass chips! And I can’t stand cleaning!”

Then there was the time, we reminisced, that I came down from Sechelt where I had lived with my first husband who I was leaving over issues of drugs and alcohol abuse. I had nowhere to stay and phoned Lina, now a solid friend, who had been coaching me on how to get out of my messy situation.

“I’m at the gas station at the corner. I don’t have any where to stay. Could you put me up overnight. I can sleep on the floor.” It was ten o’clock at night. I was only twenty four. I’d only been married two years and my whole life was a mess. I had my car and my clothes in it. I’d had to flee my very own home and sort that out later when I could figure out what to do. Lina would surely know. She’d been through a divorce before.

Lina said yes, of course. She asked her ten year old son if he would mind giving up his bed for me, and I slept in that child’s bed overnight. Next day she went off to work. It must have been summer because I wasn’t working. She gave me the run of the house. Pointed out good things to eat in the fridge, but said I could eat anything I wanted, showed me the kettle and the coffee maker, gave me a key.

I think I stayed all day in that house, in that haven. I may have even stayed for a few weeks. I was so rattled and burnt out that I was like a vegetable. And Lina looked after me, just as she has looked after countless lost souls – cats, dogs and lost hippies.

We can laugh at it now. It’s been a life. We’ve both had to deal with family members with drug or alcohol issues or both. We’ve both had to be independent and creative about earning our livings. We’ve both got a love of literature but we discuss it very little. We love to sit talking over a kitchen counter sitting on stools, or curled up on comfy chairs in the living room, or on a walk along the river dyke watching the snow geese, ducks, dogs and humans out for their fresh air; or, as we did today, as Lina lists my apartment for sale, over a classy hotel restaurant table in upscale Richmond….

Thank you Lina,

You are a wonderful friend.

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One Response to “Long time friends – never old!”

  1. Marsha J. O'Brien Says:

    Old friends are so wonderful…I have a friend I’ve known more years than I will comment 🙂 ,
    and when we get together-no matter how long we’ve been a part, we laugh and it’s like yesterday. I think girlfriends are a whole different ball park than my husband’s guy friends
    Can you imagine two men getting together and hugging and giggling and playing like we
    women do? I sure can’t.

    Have a WONDERFUL day…it’s always great to read your blog. Hope all is good.

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