And there I sat at the tender edge of summer’s ebb, knitting needles in hand, eyes glancing often to the rolling growl of approaching storms, wistfully smiling as my mind moved towards the simple wave of an old friend’s hand. I had been walking down the little driveway to the post box to check the mail when a smart little red car raced by, purple haired woman at the wheel, waving gleefully at me. It was Mendi, whom I had just become reacquainted. I text her quickly to thank her for the drive-by wave, to which she responded, “Whenever I go by your apartment I wave…. :)”
I had not seen Mendi in nearly 15 years, but thought of her often. It was Mendi who drove me to the monastery. It was Mendi that showed me that art could be found everywhere. It was Mendi’s collection of books on kundalini meditation, numerology, and prophets that smell of gardenias that I coveted. It was the smell of Nag Champa in her house that made me feel like it was home. It was Mendi that fed me coffee and baked potatoes we bought at the 24 hour Winn-Dixie…..us, and every REAL transgender in town shopping at 2am (it was the only time they could go without fear of being beat up back then). Mendi was the first to see my writing, see something of value in it, and promote me. It was Mendi that held me one very challenging day in an October long since past. She found me crying. The “why” I was crying is of no concern. The warmth with which she embraced me is, as she said under her breath, “I know it hurts….” is what I remember. Mendi was a very impressive imprint of me during on young and impressionable 20’s. She was the sort that said with the loving pat on the back of my hand, “you’re being foolish.” In many ways, it Mendi was a surrogate aunt, a kind woman who saw a misguided kid with promise and shifted him towards a different path. I owe much to Mendi.
Fast forward a thousand hours of life slipping and gaining, cut out the 15 years of silence between us: as my knitting needles raced, my mind slowed to remembrance of older days. I was grateful to see Mendi again not long ago. She bought a copy of my book, followed my address, and knocked on my door (she only lived 2 blocks away). Now, this won’t be one of those moments where you say, “…and we picked up where we left off.” Heavens, no. A decade and a half, and dearly departed friends, pain and joy had come our way. We were not the same people. However, that beauty I found in her was still ever present. She was still just as vibrant as ever….and still purple haired 🙂 We had a wonderful meeting. And the one thing I was clear on was this: she was still my friend. She was still teaching me so much about myself. Knitting needles in hand, and losing days as quickly as they come as we get older, I felt that my life would never be lonely should I always remember that there are people that love me no matter how horrible I had been. (And I was pretty horrible in my 20’s). Those friendships, those people we rarely get to see, nor speak to, but feel in our hearts are always deeply praying for us, are once in a lifetime moments.
I don’t get to see her often, we text rarely, but….and this is the beautiful part that had me come to this strange new 21st century machine to remind of something that is so archaic: I see that little red car driven by a purple haired darling…and I smile 🙂
They’re not on your radar, they’re not constantly posting on a Facebook feed, and they don’t Instagram what they ate for dinner….but, some of the best people you know angelically protect from a distance, quietly shielding you with brightness and love….and a simple wave from afar to let you know they’re still there.
Next time you pick up your knitting….recall an old friend, think of their impact on your life. Let your needles speak through stitches, speak to them through your purls, and let your heart remember once in a lifetime people….
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