Posts Tagged ‘friend’

My New Friend

July 29, 2013


My drier has developed an awful squeak. It’s happened before, and my husband can fix it, but it’s not a high priority on his list of repairs, so I hang my clothes outside. I’ve threatened to get my own tool box.

My clothespin bag hangs on a hook on the back porch. It’s convenient to the washer and to the steps leading out to the yard and the clothesline. Two weeks ago, I grabbed the clothespin bag and threw it into the basket of wet laundry. I noticed a small clump of dried mud as it fell from the inside of the bag onto my clean blouse. A mud dauber’s nest.

I threw my now dirty blouse back into the washer and stomped out the door to the clothesline, throwing the infamous clump of mud into the yard.

After hanging the rest of my clean clothes, I returned to the porch, hung my clothespin bag back on its hook and turned to work on the rest of the laundry. That’s when I noticed her, the mud dauber, a thin, black and yellow wasp-like insect. She flew back and forth across the front of the clothespin bag. She didn’t land on it, just passed in front of it over and over again. Oh no, I thought. She’s searching for her nest.

My conscience got the better of me. I hurried back out to the yard in search of the clump of dried mud I’d thrown. It took me the better part of fifteen minutes to find it. I picked it up and examined it for cracks. It was intact, including a small round hole near the bottom. I hoped no eggs had rolled out when my anger got the better of me.

I marched myself back to the clothespin bag where I examined the damage I’d caused. The nest had been attached fairly high up in the bag. I wondered what might happen if I propped the nest close to where it had been. Maybe the mud dauber would come back to it and repair my insult, re-attach her creation. Of course, I’d used some of the clothes pins for the wash, so I needed to build up the mound in order to put “operation rebuild” back into place. Meanwhile, Ms. Mud Dauber kept her vigil of hovering, turning every once in a while to look at me, accusingly.

“I need to find some more clothespins,” I explained. “Don’t worry, I think I have some in the attic.”

I ran to the stash and opened the new bag. Piling the pins as close to the original placement of the nest as I could, I gingerly placed the bottom of the mud nest into the clothespins and propped its top against the back fabric of the bag.

I turned to Ms. Dauber. “I’m so sorry,” I said. “I promise not to bother it again, if you’ll see to the repair and rebuilding.”

She landed on the opening to the bag and surveyed the damage. I could imagine her shaking her tiny head as I went back into the house, closing the backdoor behind me.

I check on Muddy often now. We’re on a first name basis. My family members smirk as they ask me how my new friend is doing. I frown at them. They don’t understand my connection with Muddy.

The two of us meet on the back porch at least once a day. She works hard daubing new little round patches on the covering of her legacy, and she listens as I tell her my frustrations about my own nest building. She thinks it’s a good idea for me to get my own set of tools. Women are capable.

I wave as Muddy slips through the crack around the storm door frame, heading to the yard for more mud, or to capture a spider to feed her babies. “That door needs fixing,” I say, as I watch Muddy’s slim body hover for a second in the sunshine.

“Really?” she asks, then she flies off on her errand.

Twenty-nine and Holding

January 2, 2010

  I woke this morning to a hot cup of coffee presented to me in bed. It was a nice way to start my anniversary. My husband is a good man.  He isn’t romantic, doesn’t sing or recite poetry, rarely tells me he loves me, but brings me coffee, changes the oil in my car, plows the path for me to explore, and sometimes cooks. He goes about life quietly doing.  A hug from him wraps me in security I can count on. I hadn’t had much of that before he came along. I take him for granted.

       Few of my friends have been married twenty-nine years. One asked, “How have you tolerated the same man for so long, doesn’t he get on your nerves?”

      “Sure he does,” I said. “I’ve finally learned that his workday begins at daylight and ends at dark, “evening” means anytime after the noon hour, and “Ask your Mama” is his way of being supportive in raising children. Oh, and he snores.”

      My friend shakes her head. She doesn’t understand my marriage.  She never will. She thinks I should be bored.  She exhales excitement about her third marriage. The latest man is tall, has hair on his head, and his chest, drives a BMW and sky dives.  

      Then, she complains about the blendedness of her family. “His cell rings. It’s his ex. Every other weekend is his son’s soccer followed by his daughter’s ballet.”

   My friend doesn’t like receiving children mid-raising.  They don’t love her on contact. They wear shoes on her carpet and leave water rings on her coffee table.  Vacations are not relaxing. Her hair needs color and her nails are chipped.

      The equations that make up her life take me back.  I come from a long line of complications.  Multiple relationships flung themselves at me when I was growing up.  I spun around, trying to catch all the strings that tied me to parents, step-parents, step-siblings, and sets of grandparents. 

     “I just want to find that simple love I missed out on the first time,” my friend laments.

      I want to tell her, but don’t, that nothing about relationships is simple, and they get more complicated with endings, new beginnings, additions, subtractions, divisions and multiplications. There is no simple love. 1+1 rarely equals 2.  Love takes sweaty effort, a good sense of humor, and some luck.

     As I leaned back against the headboard this morning, holding my cup, I decided I’m happy. The payment I receive for the toil in this marriage is measured in my son’s excitement at hitting a baseball, in the comfortable quiet as I sit next to my husband watching the sun set behind the Blue Ridge, and in tablespoons of fresh ground coffee.  No words are needed. I don’t want a man with a fancy car or one who jumps out of planes. I want one who plows a path for me to grow, and brings me a cup of coffee in the morning.


December 25, 2009

       When I first met Mel, I felt sorry for her.  I thought of myself, and how I would miss my vision if it was taken from me by some force of fate.  I imagined the sadness of losing the purple of my morning glories,  the opaque green of the sea glass I search for at the shore, the rusty red of McIntosh apples in the fall orchard, and the four petaled white of  dogwood blossoms in spring.  What would I do minus the color in my world?


     I love faces, watching them, admiring their differences, the way brows furrow, eyes crinkle at the corners, noses turn up on the end and how cheeks dimple with a smile.  I study frowns when I’m sitting on a park bench and smirks at the food court in the mall.  I know people think I’m forward, looking directly at them as I do, but I can’t help myself. Faces fascinate me. If the power button to my vision was turned off, I would miss channel surfing profiles.


     Sometimes, for no other reason than to ride, I get in my car.  I turn left out of the driveway and find crooked gravel roads to places I’ve never met.  I’ve discovered silver ribbons of train rail, wooden bridges that clatter under my tires, fields of thatch and lavender thistles, old gray barns with red tin roofs, and dappled horses grazing by board fences.  Without my eyes, these would be lost to me.


     Mel had vision. It just wasn’t in her eyes. I was surprised one day when she said, “Train, you are very tall.”


     “How do you know I’m tall, Mel?”


     “Your voice is really far up there,” she said from her seat in the wheelchair. “I’d say you were as tall as most men.” She was right.


     Mel loved to talk and called me to her room to discuss the news, complain about the villain in her favorite soap opera on tv, teach me a new song she learned, or a Bible verse she thought might help me with my latest life crisis.  I was ashamed that I sometimes tried to sneak by her because my time was precious and I had work to do. She called to me when I turned the corner near her room. “How do you know it’s me coming down the hall, Mel, when I haven’t even said anything,” I asked her one day.


     “You wear soft soled shoes, Train.  You don’t make much noise, but your steps are far apart. Your legs must be long, no one else here has that kind of stride.”  Again, she was right.  I couldn’t fool her into thinking I was not there.  


     Mel’s fingers were sensitive. She knew texture, like I knew color. “Your sweater is wool, Train.  I know because the yarn is course and a little hairy. It scratches on my fingertips.  What color is it?”


     Why did Mel ask me about color?   She was blind from birth, had never seen colors. In my mind, the concept would be lost to her. I didn’t ask, just gave her the information she requested.  “It’s blue,” I’d say.  Finally, one day, my curiosity got the best of me.  I asked her why she wanted to know about colors.


     “I see colors in heat, and cool, smell, sound, taste and feel,” she said.


     “Oh,” I said. “Tell me what you mean, Mel.  It sounds interesting.”


     “Ok, Train, here’s how I see colors. Blue is running water. Yellow is the way the sun warms my shoulders when I sit on the porch. Orange is a sharp bite and twang, like when you peel a fresh piece of fruit and it spritzes you.  Red is a crisp bite of apple. Green is the feel of soft moss growing on rocks. Tan is the grit of sand, and the way it feels slipping between my fingers.  White is the softness of a cotton ball. Silver is a bell ringing, and black is the quietest quiet you can hear.” 


     At that moment, Mel’s world began to make more sense to me. I no longer felt sorry for her.  Her vision was far superior to my own.  I stopped seeing her as blind, and started seeing her as Mel.  She died in 2003, I miss her wisdom and my lessons in seeing without eyes. I went to pay my last respects to her at the funeral home.  She was wearing her favorite dress. It was the soft color of Mel’s first puppy and the richness of her favorite dessert, gingerbread.