The Day 10 assignment said to “write an update post in the form of a virtual coffee date.”
I tried to write it that way, but all I could think of was a friend that used to live down the street from me. For about ten years, getting together for coffee was at least a weekly occurrence for Maggie and I. Sometimes it was daily. Maggie isn’t her real name, but it is a name that she chose for herself, so I know she won’t mind me using it.
Maggie and I knew each other in high school, but we weren’t friends. It still amazes me how maturity and experience can change our relationships. We both moved back to our home town within a year of each other, and had children close to the same age, so it was just a matter of time before we ran into each other. Then I rented the house up the street from her, and before long, we were visiting a lot over coffee. One of the first things we realized was that we could tell the difference between the people who had never left our tiny (less than 400 people) home town, and those who had. I left home to join the Army at 17, and had been to Korea, California, and a few other places. Maggie had married into the military and had done some traveling as well. I think she would still like to move back to Alaska.
When her teenage daughter became pregnant about the same time I became pregnant with Katherine, it was just one more connection. Kat and “R” were friends before they could talk, and Maggie and I often wondered if they were so close (and prone to mischief) at three, what would they like at thirteen? We didn’t get to find out, because “R” moved to another state, and we haven’t seen her for a very long time.
The coffee visits became so routine that either one of us felt perfectly comfortable making a fresh pot at each other’s homes, should one become necessary. Sometimes, more than one was “necessary”. It was over those cups of coffee we connected dots that we hadn’t been aware of as teenagers, and found out we had more in common than we could have imagined. At the same time, we couldn’t be more different. Maggie has been known to tear down a wall in her 130-year-old house, turn the kitchen in the a spare bedroom, and the dining room into a kitchen. I can’t drive a straight nail to save my life. Although we both love books, I read everything, and she reads “just the facts”. She is a minimalist, and am not. We both like dogs, but she barely tolerates cats. She prefers birds. She can paint and sew, and I’m not very good at either. I understand science, and have a head for foreign languages, and she does not. I could go on and on. Over those cups (and pots) of coffee, we grew to understand our differences; celebrate them, over look them, and focus on those things we had in common. Did I mention, we both drink our coffee black?
She is smart, hard-headed and extremely blunt. She gave Ed a place to stay when he first came to Missouri, and made him an herbal tea to help with the alcohol withdrawal. She was the first one to suggest to me that Katherine might be autistic, even when the experts said she wasn’t. Maggie insisted that she was somewhere on the spectrum. You see, Maggie spent some time in foster care, and had a lot of experience with “different” kids. She has a huge heart for kids, but will not tolerate disrespect. She home schooled her youngest, and provided me a ton of support and information when I started looking at homeschooling Katherine years later.
She was the first one to show me plantain and tell me I could use it for medicine. Oh, and she can pull up a plant and throw it out on the sidewalk, and that thing will grow for her. In an emergency, she is level headed and calm (even when her house is on fire). She absolutely hates asking for help (another thing we have in common). We both have children with Bi Polar disorder.
There were many times, I thought she was just crazy, and I’m sure she thought the same of me. Sometimes those cups of coffee came in the middle of the night, when we felt like our worlds were crashing down around our ears. We both got divorced and remarried, but sadly she didn’t get her happily ever after. She would tell you that she doesn’t believe in them anyway. Her big old house is gone now. After she had to let it go, the city tore it down.
Now she has a small house in the city, but she is working on making it her own. I don’t get to see her often, but we do try to keep up on facebook.
I miss you Maggie. How do you feel about a ninety minute drive for a chat over coffee?
P.S. I promise a real update in a day or two, with a bunch of pictures!