Friends, like this …

DSCN7498.JPGPink Lake, Esperance, Western Australia

I was hotel bound for two days straight.  It was dark in the morning and dark when I returned after work with no time to go out with camera.  I was feeling tired and trapped, until today.

The flu season is in.  With cancelled appointments I finished on time today, did a quick trip to my hotel for the camera and headed to Pink Lake.  The lake is no longer pink but the grey of sunset was calming.  I needed this today for clarity about where I am and where I want to be.

I stood at the lookout and thought of my dear friend, LR.  An American author and activist who I loved dearly so many years ago.  I’m not sure if I’ve written about him previously but feel the need to have his presence with me right now, so I’ll write about him again.

I was an undergraduate, working through an essay late one night while my children slept.  My paperwork strewn around me as I lay on the carpet.  I came across an article and was captivated by the power of words.  I flipped back to the front page to look for his university address when I realised it was a home address.  I read and re-read the article several times and just knew I had to talk to him.  At 4 am Perth time I dialled international directory and they gave me his number.  I dialled it not knowing what time it was on the West Coast of USA.  The phone did not ring.  At all.  He said hello.  And I went silent.  I then stammered who I was and why I was calling him.  He was patient with me and let me talk.  In that hour we became friends, and remained so, until he passed away a few years ago.

My friend LR taught me about inclusivity.  About passion.  About acceptance.  About outrage.  About having a voice and how to use it.  About silence.  About nature.  About the “treasures” one finds in the depths of depression.  He introduced me to the works of Joseph Campbell, Elie Wiesel, Viktor Frankl, among many others.  And, he taught me how to feel ‘safe’ in a relationship.

In all those years of friendship we talked every week but I met him just once.  He was tall and had a flowing white beard.  (I’ve just realised, all the men in my life have had beards!).  To be in his presence was to be lit up from the inside.

I was at a conference in Washington DC and was invited to a party by a delegate.  I sat on a footstool at LR’s feet and we were talking.  When he stopped to take a breath I told him, he was the only man on earth who made me wish I was 30 years older.  Why? he asked me surprised.  I told him with absolute honesty, “because I would ask you to marry me”.  A confirmed  bachelor, his life committed to activism and community, it was the first proposal he had received as far back as he could remember.  We laughed at the reality of our circumstances.  His kind blue eyes sparkled at my candour.

I loved him dearly.  I always felt safe with him.  He encouraged me to use the opportunities I had been given to make a difference.  I am where I am today, because of his encouragement.

We all need friends like LR.  They may not be around us in their hordes.  We just need one, much like a stone cast to the middle of a pond, when they touch our life, the ripples are far reaching.

Until next time

a dawn bird

In response to Word of the Day Challenge : Safe

Lunch with a stranger

via Daily Prompt: Dim

Unlike my usual style, this post, paints a picture with words …

I met her 20 years ago in the university cafeteria. We greeted each other, echoing the sentiment, “all men are bastards (but not the next one!)”. It drew genuine laughter from the source of deepest hurt. Today, she takes control of the spontaneity of our hug.

She has already ordered our smoked salmon. We toast social media for making it happen. My eyes glisten with affection for times once shared. She is still my beautiful friend, as she was then.

Soon I am puzzled by the dynamics of our friendship. I am from the suburbs. Judging from her love for chilled Veuve Clicquot at midday, she probably owns a seaside one. I am a worker. She works a room. She is still slender.  My body, on the other hand, is now a spacious home, that once housed my children.

She is constructed thoughtfully. Like art, she looks more beautiful when you step away from her. I am a random product of family genes. We do have one thing in common. I, too, visited a surgeon for years, but I was mended not enhanced. Scars, physical and emotional, graffiti my body and mind. Pain is a frigid companion in the aftermath of an accident.

The art of her surgeon is obvious. Like DaVinci, he had worked to a formula for that facial symmetry. I thought he got the math right, but not the measure of the silicone that flooded her cleavage.  She was ready to face the world again after “investing” $25,000 of her divorce settlement in her pursuit for new love. She was determine never to talk about children, fearing they would “carbon date” her. Unlike me, she laughs easily at this.

Decades later, she is no different. Time has stood still.  She is single again. Her profile picture is honest about what is not. Her tanned legs swing carelessly over the edge of a sailboat, red toenails defining her feet, behind the designer sunglasses she laughs provocatively at the sun. The Swan River below glistens like the two carats embedded in her ears. Her promotion is flawless. She is a screen siren. Sly responses from men whose computer keys are more functional than their once virile bodies ‘Like’ and Follow her Instagram faithfully.  She laughs, sex now is consummated with keystrokes.

Her sense of entitlement is effusive enough to dim the light of friendship.  How can this be!  Where did my friend go?  Did she lose her way?  Or did that happen to me?

As the table is cleared, we are no longer seated in an intimate, shared space of single womanhood. The distance between us is not geographical. I catch a glimpse of her world on the way out. Men, snug in their well-lived bodies line the walls where they can view those passing by, best. I recognise faces once prominent in judiciary, business and politics. Their mobile phones buzz incessantly. While their wives shop, they find company in a dating App, responding instinctively mid-sentence to computer-generated compatibility.  They pause and swipe right.

In the ensuing few seconds of frenetic texting, she looks up. Her smile is deft, she signals availability.

I walk across the car park, my steps heavy with a new reality.

I lunched with a stranger, today.

(Disclaimer:  This was a spontaneous writing exercise and a figment of my imagination!)

Until next time

a dawn bird

Valentine’s day

DSCN8656

It’s Valentine’s Day and I wanted to share this beautiful quote for you to reflect on.

“Come live in my heart and pay no rent.” Samuel Lover

It captures everything that love means to me.

Love is generosity of spirit.

Love is kind.

Love is sharing.

Love is the offer of sanctuary.

Love is accommodating.

Love is nurturing.

Love is compassionate.

Love is inviting.

Love is welcoming.

Love is healing.

Love is also the unconditional offer of one’s spirit to another.

Finally, contrary to what the ‘love’ industry promotes.  You don’t need a significant other.

You can be single and still experience love.

That’s the best and most amazing part of it.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird