My most reliable relationship

Ferns_002In college, I had a deep and abiding crush on my friend Jan.  I’d just limped to Pueblo after a disastrous series of reckless adventures.  I was twenty two and gawky and a little bruised by life.  Jan was few years older, and everything about her was quirky and cool and interesting.  She was tall and wore her hair short when everyone else wore theirs long.  Her lipstick was bright (as I came of age in the “long and silky” era, I didn’t even know how to wear lipstick!) and she drove a Karmann Ghia.  Her apartment was on the second floor of an old building in downtown Pueblo, with long windows and wallpaper with cabbage roses and a huge, sunny kitchen where she had pinned postcards and quotes in odd spot. By the sink: “I have too many fantasies to be a housewife.” She was also a mothering sort, and took me under her wing. She cooked for me and invited me to sit in that beautiful kitchen and lay down all the sad stories I was carrying around.  She had come from some grimy city just over the river from St.Louis, and had made her escape to Colorado, but now the horizon was calling her and she thought she would go to San Francisco.  It sounded like a dream, so I didn’t think a lot about it.When the spring semester finished, however, it turned out that she was serious.  She was leaving.  She packed her belongings into that little yellow Karmann Ghia and headed out for the glamor of San Francisco.  It was the early 80s, before the Great Darkness there, and as she drove away, looking like one of her own vintage postcards, a scarf flying around her neck, I envied her the adventure. But I got her apartment. And her fern.Which sits now by my front door. Lately, it astonishes me that it’s so old.  It’s older than my children! It outlasted my marriage!  Ian once gave it a radical haircut when he was two or three, right down to the dirt, but it came right back and grew more hair to thrive at nine addresses.  And often, when I water it, I think of Jan and her bright lipstick and her kindness to a lost young woman.  I’m pretty sure she knows what she gave, but if not, I’m sending a thank you out in the ether.Do you have a memento (living or not) that reminds you of someone you lost touch with? 

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9 thoughts on “My most reliable relationship

  1. Oh, Barbara that sounds like the making of a new story!

    My memento is the movie Field of Dreams and it reminds me of my dad. When he passed I saw this movie a few months later and I cried and cried. Now what is funny is my dad was not a baseball person (he found it boring as do I), but the movie is about so much more than baseball. It is the yearning for something lost and not being able to say your goodbyes or even your hellos, it said to me don’t wait till it is too late to say I love you. Unfortunately I waited too long and this brings tears to my eyes as I write.

  2. Carol

    I have a plant that’s that old! It’s a jade plant that was given to me for my 25th birthday by a friend with whom I’ve lost touch, Miriam. I recently turned 50, and some of the people who were at 25 were there, and it made me think of Miriam and wonder what became of her. It amazes me that the plant has survived me that long.

  3. I think that apartment, or something very close, appears in one of of your stories! I’m struggling to remember which one, but it’s a newlywed apartment. Hmm…

    I’m a terminal packrat, so I have more mementos than the legal limit, probably. I’m not sure my family believes me when I say I remember the significance of each one.

  4. I have all sorts of mementos large and small that remind me of people, places and adventures in the past, but I have to say this was just a wonderful story to come across tonight as I blog hop. Your memento is a living thing and that is just awesome.

  5. Julie, I couldn’t remember ever using that apartment, but it came to me as I was walking this afternoon: it was the apartment Trudy was moving out of when she and Rick made their commitment to each other in Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue.

    I am seriously impressed, girl.

    It really was a great apartment. My brother lived there after I did.

  6. Wow, I guess your mind was working subconsciously on that one, huh? I wonder how often we pick and choose details we know well that our families, friends, or readers recognize when we don’t even realize we used them??

    I found a memento today. My youngest daughter’s teacher speaks German, and last night I taught my girl a German phrase to tell her teacher for fun. “I don’t have time for my homework.” :-) It was a phrase my best friend in high school taught me when I was starting German, and I don’t know how many times it’s come back to me and made me or others laugh. It’s a memento that reminds me of her no matter how many years it’s been since I’ve seen her (19?) and it’s not even a physical thing.

  7. I have an olive and wine hand sewn wool jacket that is lined with satin. It was a present, and the only thing I have left of the relationship. It reminds me that although something is beautiful doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

  8. admin

    Oooh, I love that: just because something is beautiful doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

  9. andylynne

    I have a plant as well. It isn’t as old as Ms Fern. But he came from 1987, as a gift plant when my husband passed away. He has had several close calls himself, but thrives now in my kitchen. I do have other mementos as well. A zero population growth button. It was give to me by bearded fellow, who said he was going to change the world. I often wonder if he ever did.

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