WEDNESDAY NIGHTS WITH JANE
The last two Wednesday evenings I have somehow managed to carve out some time in this busy holiday season to hang out with one of my favorite clients yes, but more so, favorite women. Last week, we ate at Simones in Warren RI after a trip to IKEA where we basically had the entire 357,000 square foot store to ourselves. Mind you this was the first Wednesday night in December, usually a high traffic beginning to a busy shopping season. The emptiness was depressing as I am constantly reminded how shopping may be a vintage notion at some point in our future, but it was nice to have the entire place to ourselves as we oohed and ahhed over all of the trinkets and designs that IKEA has imbedded in our minds in the way we shop for home goods.
Like Betty and Wilma, we moved through the store at the speed of light with our expert shopping ability that has become finer tuned every year we age. Jane tells stories in a way that no one else tells and she makes me laugh so hard that I cry. No one else I really know makes me laugh like that at the drop of a hat. Add to the stories her ability to mimic her robust and very large Portuguese family’s heavy accents and you would think she just moved here from the old country. She is in a unique vantage point of being the first generation from her immigrant parents as many people who live in Bristol fall into this category. For me I am the fourth generation from my Russian great grandparents so I am very much assimilated into everything American. Jane is too, but her direct connection with her culture, her tribe of family members and their cultural quirkiness makes for some hilarious commentary.
Since the first facial I gave her sixteen years ago, she has had me laughing as her stories are endless. From how her mother prepares for Christmas dinner, (six different potato dishes because God forbid there isn’t enough) to how the double standard of her husband who easily gets out an obligation falls on her by proxy. She darts between the direct and pungent Portuguese language and her native English to translate which of course never translates into the meaning that the native language intends. She does the accent of the women in her family that is so authentic you just know it is because she has been surrounded by their sounds and intonations from the moment she was conceived almost fifty years ago. As the matriarchs of her family are getting older, it is obvious who will take the helm as there is never a moment when there is not a christening, a wedding, a shower, a birthday party, a daily visit to the nursing home or a funeral to not only attend, but to shop, cook, prepare and rally the troops for. Jane is the designated go to gal in her beautiful and tight knit family that at times causes envy because I don’t have any family other than my son, my aunt and my ex-husband in my hometown.
I have figured out ways to create tribe. My partner and his son and their family are now family I call my own. I have a group of close friends and some of their children who I rely on and they rely on me too for the community of family because none of us have what Jane has either. The ability to create tribe and connection with your own choice is probably something that Jane could never imagine as there is never a shortage of sound and sensory overload with her family. Quiet time is not part of their story and I have continued to be the recipient of these stories as I make my way on these shopping and eating excursions this last two Weds evenings and for the past 16 years.
This past Wednesday was no exception as we somehow managed to get together last minute for another shopping adventure and eating again at Simones. I am actually hoping that this gets to be a regular occurrence because it is such a nice break for both of us. Our lives are so different, but we blend together and share our stories on these past two Wednesday eves in such a glorious and divine way. The end result is we lift and energize each other because of the differences and this is because of our total acceptance of those differences. This is the best part of being open to unlikely friendships where maybe on paper we may not share typical commonalities, but our hearts and our energy fields have a connection that feels almost past life. I wish I could share the exact stories, but I don’t want to get her family all jacked up because of a security breach on my part. This could also potentially run the risk of my being banished from the infinite Sunday dinner open invitation at her mother’s house. This would not be good. What I can share though is that the stories are loud and peppery; someone is usually not speaking to someone one day, but the next day they are sharing a meal. This is family. This is love. From the outside it looks like something I would love to be a character in. Knowing the intensity and the sometimes too close for comfort of having so many relatives in a super small town that is a peninsula only inhabited by 22000 people, I think that this is more of a fantasy. I would prefer to watch the action through Jane and her stories and know that I can leave them whenever I get out of her car. Because I grew up as a grandchild of a textile mill owner in Fall River, Mass, though, every Portuguese sound, story, accent is something that I can feel in my cells like it is my own. Her connecting me to this part of my life is much appreciated as a time in the past that I love to bring back to the forefront.
She lost her best friend this year suddenly to an illness and this has spun her into a dark place. Out of darkness often comes light without sounding cliché though I know this does, I am one of the benefactors of the time she now has without her friend by her side. She needs laughter and distraction as she is in the depths of her grief. I get to be one of the women in her life who is removed from the immediate connection and thus the recipient of her need to fill some space with female connection. I relish the job.
This past Wednesday we went to dinner first and then she dragged me way past my bedtime to her other job- going to Macy’s at the Swansea Mall. I assured her that I couldn’t remember the last time I was at any Macy’s or the Swansea Mall for that matter and as we drove up to the parking lot that had about four cars in it, I could see why. I kept reminding her that it was way past my bedtime of 8:30. She ignored my half assed complaints and in truth I loved the adventure. Maybe the plan for the malls of the future should be to knock them down and make parks out of them. There was nothing going on except bored salespeople who could barely point you in the direction of what you were looking for let alone walk you over to it. No wonder no one is shopping there, there is no experience. At least online you can make your own experience in your own house. This was something. As I plodded through the crap, I felt like I would have done better at Job lot. Macy’s is not what it was in Miracle on 34th St. of yesteryear but we managed to find a few old faithfuls. Isotoner gloves for one, my personal favorite. I just can’t buy those online, you really have to try them on and I managed to find two brand new pairs at some crazy 65% off sale price. Meanwhile Jane was up to her job of “working” at the perfume counter, passing out samples to the only other shopper besides me in the damn place. We laughed our Simone pasta filled asses off and I can’t wait to do it all over again.
There is nothing like female friendship. Deep friendships are honest and happily interrupt our otherwise over scheduled lives. I have an inner circle of women friendship that has some common denominators. We may not see each other or speak for time, but when we do it was like we just spent the past week together. There is no guilt or pressure between us. When we are together it is comfortable, and we can toggle between deep belly laughter and teary eyes from one sentence to the next. In fact there is a knowingness that at any moment of any day I could call any one of them and they would be there. Hanging out with ease, enjoying the time, making the time, knowing that we are all so busy in our wacky worlds and we must make more effort in spending time with each other in between those rare spaces of over booked lives. I am so grateful that we made this happen especially before the mad rush of December.
Love you Janey M. You enrich me and I am a better person knowing you. Thelma was right there with us, no doubt.