1. come to the going-away cabaret
B is moving to Indiana.
I paused after I wrote that sentence because there was a time when I would have asked her permission to blog about her (she’s always been a little on the private side, by which I mean she’s convinced that the black helicopters are after her). If that time was still this time, I’d be wrapping picture frames in bubble wrap and heading for Bloomington right now.
Time is weird. That’s the big profound thought that formed in my brain and smudged my mascara as I stood on what used to be my street corner Saturday night with my new, jaw-droppingly understanding girl, trying to psych myself up to venture into a going-away party for my former girl.
I told AK about the palm tree and pineapple my mom had painted on our cabinets when B and I decided, for no particular reason, that our kitchen needed a tropical theme. I said it partly as insurance, because what if AK had looked around and whispered, “And why is there a fucking pineapple on the cupboard?” Not that that’s really her style. She’s pretty laissez-fruit.
But just try to talk about fruit painted by your mom-who-died on the night of your ex’s going-away party when you’re PMS-ing without losing it. I had to sit on the curb for a while. AK said, “It’s cool, people will just think your sorority sister is consoling you.” (Did I mention B lives near USC?)
I nodded. “About a boy,” I giggled tearfully.
2. can’t tell mama
I’m glad I’m not moving to Indiana. I’m glad B is moving there—it’ll be great for her. I’m glad AK is the kind of girl who busts out a digital camera and takes portraits of party guests with pineapples. But still, it all feels weird.
B and I are almost friends these days. We’re both Trying Very Hard To Be Friends. She’s a little better at it than I am. I lose my cool too easily, which is sort of healthy for me, I think, but it makes the going slow. I was hoping we could hit the Full-Fledged Friends mark before she skipped town, but it hasn’t worked out that way.
After my mom died, I remember thinking that, even if there was reincarnation or an afterlife, there was still something that had been lost forever: that moment in time when She-As-Her and I-As-Me were in each other’s lives. She-As-Gypsy-Princess might cross the path of Me-As-French-Trapeze-Artist, or we both might meet as angels or whatever, but it wouldn’t be exactly the same. That thought made me sad but also happy. I liked that my right to mourn—the mournability of the situation—was so inarguable, and that I had been part of something specific and irreplaceable.
And I guess I have a similar (but, you know, completely different) feeling towards my time with B too. There were good times. There were sucky times. Time marches on, and something about that fact itself seems mournable.
3. imperfectly marvelous
B and I used to joke that we were going to take the cabinet doors with us when we moved. We were fond of them, and we weren’t so fond of our landlord. She looked into it recently, which I thought was really nice, but apparently the cabinets are so thick with so many layers of paint that unhinging the doors without ruining them is pretty much impossible.
And so the pineapple and palm tree are my mom’s donation to public art, to putting-it-out-there-in-the-world. I hope someday some college kids who stay friends after college will look back and say, “Remember when we lived in that crazy pink building with the pineapple in the kitchen?”
This morning I had coffee with Patty, a former professor of mine, whose complaints about some of the Newport Beach moms she’s encountered since moving there include that they don’t like Sondheim.
“Since 1960, it’s only been Sondheim,” she said, and I nodded heartily in agreement. “Well, no, Kander and Ebb, I like them,” she amended, and I had to agree there too. They wrote Cabaret, a musical for bittersweet times if ever there was one.
I never much liked the song “It Couldn’t Please Me More” since it was sung by old, boring characters with croaky voices. No girls in shredded fishnets, no boys in lipstick in that number. But it does involve the gift of a pineapple, so it seems apt today, and I think I’m starting to understand old croaky love more and more.
If in your emotion
You begin to sway
Went to get some air
Or grabbed a chair
To keep from fainting dead away,
It couldn’t please me more
Than to see you cling
To the pineapple I bring.
I can hear Hawaiian breezes blow
It’s from California