My MariaIs there someone in your life that instantly makes you feel calm? Someone who, just by entering the room, can put you at ease, give you a sense of peace and make you laugh, too? If you don’t, I truly hope and wish that someone like that enters your realm of existence soon.
I have just such a someone in my life, and though she doesn’t read this blog (hell, no one from my town reads this blog except for two or three that I know of -- apparently, I'm less frightening to strangers than I am to my own friends and family), after seeing her tonight, I had to spew love all over dis room, man.
God. Maria, Maria, Maaariaaa! Known each other since we were six years old, and though we’ve had our periods of distance, some years long, we always know that one is there for the other, no matter what. She’s the one constant in my life, a life that never did have much constancy, not until I got married and had kids that is; she’s my history, my surefire source of good memories cultivated from a time when goodness was hard to come by. She’s slumber parties with potato chips and onion dip, she’s hysterical laughter and sneaking smokes, she’s art and music and scented candles, Whoppers and illegally purchased beer. Maria, when I look at her beautiful face, is fifteen years old, is twenty-two, is teenage-stomach butterflies and bonfires and cute boys, anticipation, cats crunching bird skulls and Berlioz. She makes me feel safe, remembered, cared about; she reminds me without saying a word that I matter in this universe, that I did have a childhood, and that once, a long time ago, there was a little girl named Lori Howe who was funny, silly, lovable, who enjoyed doing Bruce Lee impressions, drawing pictures of big-boobed mermaids, riding bikes on windy days. I am that little girl when I see Maria, and I like that little girl. More importantly, she helps to remind me that I like the old broad I am today, that I'm capable and strong when I want to be, and if I don't want to be, she helps me be. And everything’s going to be okay.
Tonight, after almost eight months of communicating only by e-mail (I’m not a telephone person -- told you I was weird), Maria came for a visit. I’d been in the blackest of moods since Thursday, which is when I received some terrible news about someone I love, and frankly, I’d been feeling like I might lose it at any moment. Was screaming at the kids, the cat, my husband, my beloved vacuum cleaner; was crying over crumbs left on the counters, over the moon, over nothing at all and everything there is. Hadn’t slept more than two hours, if that, a night. I was a complete and total case of assholeness. But in walked Maria, Maria, Maaariaaa! and everything’s going to be okay.
I knew deep down that it would, that it will, but tonight, with the two of us sitting on my back porch, nothing but the glow of inside lights illuminating her face, I looked at Maria and I not only wanted to be, I realized that I am.