Some things happen so easily, so elegantly that’s it’s difficult to not believe it was meant to be.
Last week, I received an email from Doris, a beautiful lady I haven’t seen in over 14 years. She sent the email to myself and another beautiful lady, Dee, whom I haven’t seen in just as many years. Doris wrote she missed us. “Let’s get together”, she said.
So it was quite wondrous when in reply to the Doris’s email, Dee said she’d be in town the next day and asked if we could do lunch then. I replied and said I would just happen to be in the general area for Brhiannon’s art class, and perhaps we could meet for lunch at that time.
Within 24 hours, three women who had not been together in 14 years were having lunch in New Cumberland, and talking as if no time had passed at all.
I had another experience like that with a friend from high school. I hadn’t seen her since my oldest, who turns 30 this year, was in diapers. But yet, just a year ago, Giny and I sat in an airport while she was on her way to Norway (another long and beautiful story), as if we had just come off a weekend and were having lunch in between classes now.
This is what amazes me the most about my truest friends. Time doesn’t exist. What’s real in our relationship circumvents time. You catch up on the details in another person’s life, but the essence of the ones you love remain, and you recognize them. And you know them so well, and the intimacy that was never thinned by the passing of time invites you to dive right in. No superficial small talk. Just meaningful conversation punctuated with laughter and heartfelt confessions and genuine sharing.
That doesn’t happen with people who hide behind images or personae. Those things shift and change, so you never know who’s there even if you just saw them an hour ago.
You can be who you are with people who are real. They do not live in pretense, and so you don’t have to either. Not that there aren’t those who choose to live in pretense regardless who they’re with, but with a genuine person it is safe to be yourself.
My mother spoke of only one friend with whom she had a relationship like this. Her name was Shigecko. My mother called her Geko chan.
Geko chan was the one person my mother could be herself with, the one who accepted my mother for who she was, who encouraged her to follow her dreams as she shared her dreams with my mother, who saw my mother as a worthy human being.
Geko chan became ill in her early twenties and passed away.
My mother never stopped loving her…or missing her.
It’s never occurred to me until now how terribly lonely my mother must have been. I knew she had to have felt lonely living in a western culture as a minority. Her frequent talking about the land where she grew up made me realize that. But I think the cultural differences couldn’t have been as alienating a factor in her life as not having a true friend to share her present moments now.
There were other Japanese women my mother came to know. And I know she had a few American born friends as well. But there was a closeness, a bond she shared with Geko chan that I know she never found in anyone else.
Perhaps if she had remained in Japan, she would have had a larger number of women with whom she might have been able to experience or create that depth of friendship. Whatever the reason, my mother lived without that sense of sisterhood that I have come to really cherish and can’t imagine living without.