I woke up around 1:30 last night – that’s my thing this week apparently, waking up to find I’ve been sleeping with the light on. That hour meant I got up long after I should have turned out all the lights and washed my face and cleaned my teeth. Then, for no apparent reason, I started thinking about this friend I had in college named Pilar.
Pilar was a few years older than me when we met, I was 19; she actually introduced me to my first great love. This beautiful man walked by my open dorm room door while she was attempting to oil my scalp – a new experience for a Peruvian woman I was told – and I said with appropriate levels of ‘I’m impressed,’ “Who is that?”
“Oh, that’s so-and-so, my friend from Spain.” Yack yack yack, and later she introduced us, and the rest is history. He and I shared a lot together – so much I’m not about to tell you, not to mention the fact that his wife likely would not appreciate reading that kind of intimacy lol – but so did Pilar and I.
I remember that she loathed audible burping. No kidding. If someone burped out loud she’d leave the room in a huff. We tried to no avail to convince her it was natural, that sometimes people just need to burp and couldn’t make it somewhere private before one escaped, but she never gave in.
She introduced me to her family and to Peruvian culture, and because she was older, she gave me many little golden nuggets about what it meant to be a woman, what it would mean as I aged. She also taught me about the value of good friendship between women.
I didn’t absorb most of those lessons until years later, didn’t soak in the value of that friendship and Pilar’s uniqueness or appreciate her generosity in opening her home and family. I remember she had three sisters, one of whom lived in a gorgeous house in Frankfurt and had a doctor for a husband; they had a habit of flashing him as a joke. And Pilar could make perfect rice every single time… Now, I think these goodies didn’t sink in then because in college there are so many distractions, and if your head isn’t totally screwed on straight – which mine wasn’t – you miss a lot until you mature.
As you age – not that I’m a fossil – certain things gel and wiggle and slide into this space in your mind that’s not sad exactly, it’s more pensive. You just, remember, and it’s like a sheet being pulled off stored furniture. When you see what’s underneath, you smile in remembrance and there’s a little click in your heart when the nuance seeps in.
I dug out some old pictures while I waited for my night sleep to catch up with the time and grinned a bit to see what I lovely lunatic I was back then. I had no idea how good things were, how precious time is, that I should have relished and sought out every new experience because I had so much freedom then. And I thought, that’s at the center of every young adult novel: that need to relish what’s going on that’s completely hidden by the angst of, you guessed it, everything that’s going on! lol. It’s like, hello Catch 22.
Pili and I don’t talk much anymore. We’re Facebook friends though. She’s gotten married and had a little girl named Frida after Frida Kahlo. I think I’ll drop her a line, ask how she is, and send her this link to let her know that for awhile in the middle of the night I was nostalgic for our friendship.