“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to a new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.”
Someone once told me you’re friends with certain people during different periods of your life. The person you are then finds kinship with someone. You are friends for that period of time. Certain friendships, certain relationships, don’t endure. They don’t, or can’t, last beyond that brief period of time - whether it be middle school, college, or the first year on the job. Their brevity, however, doesn’t diminish their value.
In less than a month, I will be turning “35,” and have found myself thinking more and more about some of the people I have had relationships with during the course of my life. For whatever the reason, these people and I crossed paths. Their influence lives within me, still. I remember not just their faces, but the way I felt with them. Their memory lives on as does the person I was at that time. They came into my life and somehow or another, played a part in me traveling this road and getting to this point.
There was Rosemary, my friend during junior high. The girl who would beautify me when she “french-braided” my hair during lunch. The girl I talked to about shaving our legs; hers before mine. She was boisterous and fun and confident. The opposite of my quiet, shy, insecure self. At the time, I constantly wondered why she’d want to be friends with someone like me (aside from help with her math homework).
And I wonder what happened to the elderly man who wore the gray “Members Only” jacket? Saturday and Sunday mornings found me at work in a Beverly Hills flower shop. When he walked by, we’d smile at each other. Over time, he began to walk closer to our open shop door, lean inside, and wave. I never did find out that man’s name. Never left my morning post to say “Hello” and introduce myself. I always looked forward to seeing my “man-friend” out on his walk. His presence gave me a sense of comfort and familiarity, almost like a grandpa walking by and keeping an eye out for me. When I quit my job, I wondered about my “man-friend.” Wondered what he would think the next time he walked by and didn’t see me. I hoped he somehow knew that I was thinking of him.
Jenny was my best friend during my community college years. The girl I hung out with at the pizza restaurant across the street, feeding the jukebox quarters so we could hear Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” and Roy Orbison’s “Crying.” We acted like tourists in our own town, spending our spring break exploring popular destinations, using public transportation. Jenny was the first friend I ever said “I love you” to. She was the girl I spoke to about dating, and the girl who introduced me to the first man I dated.
And then there is that man, “E.” The first man I dated, the first man I kissed. Does he remember me? My memories of him have dulled considerably over time, but I remember his white pick-up truck, his bad habit of forgetting his wallet when we went out to dinner, our Indian food dinner. I remember the white jean skirt I wore on the night we first kissed. And, I remember wondering why this man was spending his time with me?
I remember many classmates and colleagues. People I worked with and became friendly with. If not necessarily my friend, they were still familiar faces. “Green” was the name of the girl who helped train me during my first day of work at the library. “AW” was the girl I often worked nights with at the flower shop, and after closing up, we’d go to Johnny Rockets for a late hamburger. I remember another Wendy who sometimes rode the bus with me for part of my commute from CSUN.
For others, I remember faces and incidents and yet, can’t remember the names of the people involved. I remember the guy from my Speech class who wrote me a note that unsettled me so much I knew I’d never get in a car with him. I remember a college classmate with long, dark, curly hair and our breakfast at the Farmer’s Market. I remember her fondly speaking of her family trip to Yosemite.
Whether I’m aware of it or not, these people have crept into my soul, have participated in my past and played a part in my present. I am reminded of a quote from Under the Tuscan Sun, authored by Frances Mayes:
“Any arbitrary turning along the way and I would be elsewhere. I would be different.”
That statement gives me hope and reassurance. My life is unfolding the way it was meant to, and all the people I have spent time with and allowed into my heart have, in some way, shaped the person I am today.