Vita and I haven’t been meeting up lately. For thirty years now the two of us have had lunch once a week. That’s if you don’t include the past six months… we’ve somehow lost our rhythm. That’s why her call this morning amused me
“Mae, I have a 2:00 appointment with Dr C on February 7. See if you can do the same.”
Dr C is our eye doctor and the two of us are on the same yearly schedule. I call for an appointment and got myself booked for the 2:15 slot.
Our big plan is to sit in the waiting room together. If there is enough time, we’ll stumble out into the street with dilated eyes and get some tea. We’re both very excited. There’s a part of me that sits with a wrinkled nose in disdain. That’s the part of me that once had 20/20 vision and could walk all day in 3” heals. That part whispers, “Has it really come to this?”
Vita and I met 33 years ago at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. It was the first or second day of class when Vita got in trouble for talking too loudly with a boy in the back of the room. As punishment, she was made to sit next to me in the front row. I was 17, had just moved away from home and was still choking on shyness when she pulled up a seat next to me. Vita is tiny in stature standing only at 5’4” with slight bones defining her frame. Her personality makes her seem very large though and sometimes when I stop listening and actually look at her I am shocked. She really is so very tiny.
Vita is 100% Sicilian but as Vita would readily point out to anyone, “No one in Sicily is 100% anything.” She has pale skin with freckles that hearken back to the time Norwegian sailors landed there. Her thick auburn hair falls straight down her back and may be her inheritance from the Persians. Vita’s brown eyes are playful until she’s making a point, then they bore into our soul like ice picks. I have always believed it is the innate wisdom of the Phoenicians that is the source of such intensity.
Born in Queens, she has the accent of Joey Ramon who was raised just blocks from where she lives. Her conversation is littered with keen observations delivered in a dry low voice. The consonants in her words are sharp at the edges making many of her statements lethal. That’s what I love about her. She can decipher a situation or romance I am having trouble with in a few succinct sentences. Yes, sometimes I am wounded by flying verbal shrapnel but most of the time I laugh like a loon.
Vita is quick to say, “Life isn’t all that difficult. You’re the one making it complicated.” She will then bite delicately into her salad as my mind bounces the word “but” a few times around the edges. The thing is, she’s 99% of the time right and the 1% wrong is usually because I left out a detail.
There wasn’t a defining moment when we became friends. We just started talking and the conversation never ended. We used to steal away and go see the most recent museum exhibits. Now, it seems that we’ve entered a new stage. Neither of us has time to steal away to museums. Our jobs and lives crowded with lists of things we must do. That’s why I jumped on her idea this morning. It’s always been about the friendship and never the location.
“Yes,” I say to my former self, “It has come to this.” I can’t help but laugh. I don’t even want to imagine what we will find fun next.