Sunday, June 17, 2012

Vicky


When my daughter was a small child, I gave her a book called The Little While Friends, about pals that she would meet and enjoy briefly but never see again. I was thinking of the friends found on the playground and in waiting rooms at the dentist but, in hindsight, I have come to realize that Little While Friends have appeared throughout my life too.

Such it was with Vicky, a darling young woman (we were really girls at the time) that I had a short and heady friendship with.  A kind acquaintance introduced us, knowing that Vicky and I, both newlyweds with traveling husbands, were meant for each other. Our “blind date” occurred in a dear little museum cafe where we chatted non-stop over tuna melts and iced tea.

Vicky and I were the same height which I loved.  We also wore our hair in a similar chic bobbed style - hers, however was a striking auburn which I admired very much. Vicky was a bright crayola crayon and I felt like a chalk pastel. She wore one of those great Asian designer outfits that were popular at the time, all brilliant red and turquoise. I was in a pink chiffon blouse and gray skirt. Over the next two years, Vicky taught me how to dress more vibrantly and also how to live a connoisseur’s life.

Sometimes, when both our husbands were away, I would spend the night in the attic bedroom of her small and pretty Dutch Colonial home. I slept under the eaves in what was her “wrapping room” which one night was filled with beautifully wrapped Christmas gifts to be sent to far away nieces. To have a wrapping room seemed to me the height of luxury, with ribbons and colorful papers in a joyous tangle. Vicky would bring me black coffee (only Hawaiian Kona) on the mornings I slept over and when I asked about milk and sugar, her knowingly wise-beyond-her-years reply was, “One day you will have to switch to all black coffee for health reasons, so you may as well learn how to like it black now”.  And she was right. Vicky was discerning in everything from her beautiful cobalt blue London Fog trench coat and her special handcrafted jewelry, to the blow dryer she used and her velveteen couch.

Together, we discussed not just coffee, but hosiery, lingerie, winter gloves, as well as where to find the best croissants, blueberry muffins, wine. Nothing that Vicky wore or consumed was less than the best she could afford and she taught me how to search for these things and how sometimes it was best to save my money and wait for the best to show up. We had so much silly fun together. One summer night we went on a wild goose chase to four drug stores searching for a mascara we saw in the latest Glamour magazine. The mascara was not to be found but later, the adventure over, we split an ice cream sundae while sitting on the top of an old picnic bench under the stars and chatted about our favorite perfumes.

On an icy cold and lonely night, Vicky made me a special home-cooked meal of Chicken Divan, from her grandmother's recipe. An old fashioned dish, we ate it in her dining room with the built in oval china cabinets filled with all her cherished things. It was one of the most unforgettable meals I've ever had, the ingredients were fresh, the chicken succulent - and it was lovingly made just for me by a hostess who said she didn't cook. We felt so grown up at the candlelit table with Vicky's wedding dishes and a bottle of wine.

When Vicky became pregnant, I had a ball helping her find cute maternity clothes, nursing nightgowns and then later, baby items. Together, we made lists of what she would need for the hospital and to bring the baby home in. Just weeks before her due date, we finished turning the wrapping room into a sweet little nursery. Sadly, Vicky's baby girl died before birth.  I remained silent the night I visited her in the hospital having just found out I was to be a mother too. There were other friends expecting as well and this was a source of deep sorrow for my friend and it changed everything.  Soon her protective husband took her to live on the opposite coast near his family.  I missed her terribly.

Vicky's inability to spend time with me and her leave-taking felt like a disappearance.  But our Little While friendship remains a sacred gold thread on my life's tapestry. She left behind my final girlish memories before life became serious with motherhood.  The day she moved, she generously dropped off an exquisitely wrapped and lovely baby gift for my newborn daughter.  Inside the sparkly pink card was a handwritten recipe for her grandmother's Chicken Divan.

4 comments:

  1. This is a wonderfully crafted memoir, Donna, so vividly put and so touching. I love this! It's a forever muse moment! Well, well done! I'm expecting you to make that Chicken Divan for me when I next visit!

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  2. This is a lovely and generous tribute to a special friendship. It's so sad that it ended, but hopefully she was able to have a family of her own one day.

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  3. Such exquisite writing. I was so moved by this. And I'm a guy (he says with a smile). The thought of sitting and talking about perfumes completely escapes me, but the mood of it does not. I found this a simply stunning tale and could almost taste the friendship between you. Your words and sentences are so carefully chosen and have such impact because of it. Nothing wasted, and the tale, for this really is a "short story" worthy of Hawthorne or someone similar. Such fine craft.

    I am again grateful to have stumbled across your blog. Though I feel quite out of place, in a sense, that makes it all the more rewarding and intriguing.

    Finally, I love Chicken Divan and I, too, learned to give up sugar and drink my coffee black long ago.

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  4. Thank you dear Bron! Chicken Divan was on my table last week - just as I remembered. Love your words - they stay with me!

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