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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Black Coffee in Disposable Mugs

It was a hot morning in a nondescript parking lot where Jane and I were waiting for a bus to take her away to a week of camp. It felt early, and asphalty hot. I'd left home unshowered, as we'd gone numerous days without running water while the plumbers worked away in the newly paved basement, replacing ancient water pipes. Not ever being much for public image, I was however aware of the clammy hot feel of my skin, and the muted mohawk bang where my humid hand had rested while I slept.

I looked like I'd crawled out from behind a rock.

Across the parking lot, like a mirage, came a black coffee in the hands of Jane's camp mate. A gift from her mother, who rested in the imaginary shade of her car. I waved my thanks to her, and filled up with gratitude for the kinds of people who think of others when they're in the drive through at Tim Hortons. I'm usually just trying to remember who asked for boston cremes or double chocolates, and whether or not to say "yes" to the inevitable request for some ridiculous chilled frothy concoction.

So, there I was in a sweaty dress and hair that was bouncey in all the wrong places, gripping a charity coffee in both hands when I stumbled upon an old friend I was very happy to see.

That's one of the things about truly great women. They don't care, and neither do I.

We didn't need a pretty cafe, or a garden with a refreshing breeze. At a quiet picnic table with the highway roaring on one side of us, and McDonald's serving its zillions to our right, we spontaneously had one of those conversations that will stay with me for days or months after.
One of those exchanges that is beautiful, and broken, and true.

And it made me think of the other places, and other women friends.
Bobbing along in a lake, buoyed with pool noodles and sharing secrets with my sister.
Sharing old stuff and life stories in a boler until dawn.
Visiting the west coast via e-mail. Benefiting from the intuitive wisdom of my recipient.
Sitting in the grass near the horse corral with the kitties and the dog, enjoying my smart friend exert her dominance over a 1500 pound animal.
Feet dangled in Clear Lake, an utterly unplanned spiritual mentoring session with a friend one province over. (didn't even know she was in Manitoba! And I got to spend time with her!)
Endless winters passed over coffees at my kitchen table, amidst the din of the workday.
Having my childhood bestest friend over and hearing her words of optimism and hope after a volunteer trip to Haiti.
Watching my friends' daughters grow into delightful, beautiful young women.

It's a sort of mystery, these gifts we women give each other.
It's a very imperfect science, being friends to one another and we often get it wrong.
What a profound privilege it is.


Anonymous said...

Ah....soooo good...l-lew

Rosa said...

i still can see your expression as i passed you the reins to Pal . Like i'd passsed you a snake. It was a face i had seen Sam use in the past.

Karla said...

So thankful we can still visit anytime we like!

Anonymous said...

I love the way you wrote this. I too have had the most life defining conversations while folding laundry with my best friend while we laughed, cryed, and just waited for Mount Everest to be put away in our kids drawers.

I love you cousin Joyce!

christine said...

i've missed you.
i'll visit again soon.
not like you'll be waiting with bated breath, but
there (seriously) is none like you.
so yes, i'll be back.