In the days of haze and smoky bars, in a city pulsing with the excitement of a new kind of music, through the cold nights of a long winter warmed by the flames of mutual passions, a friendship was born. This friendship, though newborn, was lusty and cried out in the joy of recognition. In its infancy the friendship was fueled by the excitement of discovering another, an other, who also thought that Middle Eastern politics, post-modern feminism, modern architecture and Victorian literature were all suitable conversation for 11pm on a Friday night at the bar, over endless bottles of red wine, cigarettes and pizza. Yet for all the moments of recognition, of common pleasure - it was also in the differences that much delight was found. The night owl one day finds herself, exceptionally, awake at 8am on a Saturday, and knows exactly who she can call. One learns about the fun of opening nights (thanks Mary, I think I remember them all) and staying up late. The other learns the mysteries of marathon clubs and that LSD has another meaning (long, slow distance). Years go by. The friendship is offered moment upon moment of love, laughter and quiet companionship to sustain it. Through Sunday afternoon movies, walks in the wind along the coast, gallery visits and cards games it grows into its own skin. Through scrabble and sherry and book club, it spreads its toes wide and breathes deeply. Beneath the skin, the strong muscles of the heart are also growing through many small acts of honesty and trust. They are strong enough now to sustain the friendship through the perils of living, through sadness and self-doubt, through loss and grief, through fear and anger. More years pass, and the friendship builds itself a couple of little houses. Each little house has a perfect little table - just right for endless glasses of red wine, and cups of tea and for reading The New Yorker on a lazy, sunny afternoon. Each has a little kitchen perfect for two to cook in - or for one to cook and the second to provide a suitably appreciative audience. Each has a little front porch just right for two to sit or stand and watch the flax - discovering poems amongst the tuis and the piles of rotting flyers. And still the years go by. There are movements and changes and, in the way of that shaky island, there are shifts in the ground on which the friendship is standing. Yet, with those toes spread wide and breathing deeply, the friendship learns to keep hold and - at the same time - to release. To be open to the new, the wondrous, the possible and at the same time to remain grounded in certainty, solidity, in surety. Note: I wanted so much to write a tribute to the astounding Mary Parker this week, but here I have rather selfishly written about our friendship instead. "The Chronicles of Mary Parker, Who Has Never Looked Bad in a Hat" will have to wait for another day, one with a few more hours in it!
More chronicles here