Ode to the Faithful…

Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to me. I spent my most recent 48th birthday last week with two treasured friends, Jon and Page. Our friendship has included many birthday celebration lunches. We have spent them in a string of restaurants that stretch from Sardi’s in Manhattan to where we met last week, Soleil Restaurant on Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles. We dined on tuna role and salad among Spanish archways and a galaxy hand-painted across yellow stucco walls.

We were more than 3,000 miles away from the old Kenilworth Cafe in Charlotte, where we held our first birthday celebrations. It was there, in 1982 or so, when we selected the name of our advertising agency, Haley, Garland & Lahr, which was a reference to the “Wizard of Oz” movie poster that hung over our booth. Another celebration.

The Kenilworth Cafe, like my youth and several last names, has passed into memory and recall. They have been taken to a place, a zone that cannot be measured by mere mileage. Friends such as Jon and Page are life markers of who we once were and who we still are and, still, when I dare to dream. They believe.

Unlike deciduous trees that blossom, but sleep through the hard winters, and the fading glory of youth, friends such as Jon and Page have been buoys along my journeys. Long ago, they discarded my semi-permanent last names and kept me. I hold them sheltered in my National Trust, in my mind’s eye, I hold you, here, in my Fort Knox of Friendships. Here, I hold you sacred in the attics of my mind. You are the courage and fortitude of my life, the mettle of my life. You are a weather-vane.

Birthdays pile upon each other like laundry to be sorted by categories. Those moments only known to me are visions that arrive on glimpses of a red-bird’s tail, a hand, a hand on mine, and linger like a river mist at sunrise. Some memories are best left forgotten, or misplaced.

But as the days of my life sweep by, as the days pile upon each other, I sort them by those who are to be delicately hand-washed, cold water wash, machine wash, and regular dry cleaners.

How do you say, “Thank you,” to friends for all the small acts of kindness that make me whole. There are others who restored the gratitude of my spirit. With the help of friends to catch my balance, I could see further.

When a friend turns to her family and says, “She knew me before I was a bitch,” I understand. These friends bore witness to youth and a time before life messed with you. You measure your age by the age of old friends. They stand as proof that I was once young. Their life journey measures your own and like family roots, run to the depths of my soul in my personal galaxy.

Some stand silently, others diminish and some slam across my sky like meteors, north stars and Southern Cross in my Pleiades where only I reside.
Page on my left and Jon on my right, Page’s hair is still sliver, but I see only my friend. I know this warm smile and green eyes, being around Page is like pulling a comforter over your shoulders on a cold winter’s morning. I know he was wearing a striped shirt with a button down collar with either four-pocket Bermuda shorts or kakis.

Jon wears dark colors; He has a sliding scale from light gray to black shirts in his closet, but he most often wears stylish black shirts. Jon has dimples and a crooked smile, he still twists his thumb while thinking. I know these things. He keeps my secrets, safe, and makes me laugh. As usual he is running against deadlines. Both have helped me locate my car keys, pocket book, and seeing-eye glasses, but who is counting? Jon and Page have stood resolute when hounded by others who were prone to question my sanity.

They have been my friends for so long and we all have moved about from coast to coast. There were many opportunities to misplace addresses and you both grew away from core friend contacts. We are here and we are together for another year, and I will cherish and hold safe our friendship for another year. That is the secret to aging…celebrating birthdays.

To Comment

NOTE: Comments are moderated to eliminate spam.
This may cause a delay before your post appears.