In my mind, I see them walking together, arms linked as they laugh. So much of their lives still ahead of them just waiting for their footprints. On the right is a woman with red, curly hair pulled back in a bright, floral-print scarf. Her laugh is loud and full and causes heads to turn and faces to smile along with her. On the left is a younger version of my grandmother; her face so relaxed and full of joy that her own children might not have recognized her.
She had begun the day less than relaxed. After sending the children off to various friends’ homes, she had begun to worry that her friendship with Maude might have changed too much with two decades and several states now between them. As she reached up to clip on her white five-and-dime round earring, she caught her own reflection. Smoothing her long light blue skirt, she wondered if her best friend from high school would even know this woman staring back at her. This woman who had five kids, a house, and dreams long forgotten in a box in the attic.
Hours later, time seeped away when she spotted her at the bus station. Maude took one look at my grandmother and squealed with delight as she stepped off the bus and ran toward her. Later, they walked arm and arm downtown, and they tried to soak up every minute of this time together. Two days was not long for a visit. But, just enough time for Maude to remind her that time could not change the girl inside. Just enough time for her to remember.
These little snippets for a story came to me last week as I was looking at different fabrics in my little room. Because I was looking at my small collection of vintage fabrics, I was thinking about the 1950s and 1960s and what the people I know would have been like back then. I started thinking about my grandmother. She was a woman who did not have many friends, at least not friends that those of us left behind are aware of. But, we do know that she had two close friends, one from high school and one in South Carolina where she moved with my grandfather in the late 1960s. I started wondering about these women, especially Maude, her best friend in high school.
I know nothing about Maude. Not one thing. All I know is that she moved to Texas at some point. But, I don’t know when; I don’t even know if she is still alive. It seems she and my grandmother did keep in touch through letters that my aunt may have. Anyway, as I started wondering about her, about who would have been friends with my private, sometimes short-tempered grandmother, I suddenly thought, “I bet she was a lot like me.” I started to imagine the two of them visiting one another, and the possibility that maybe Maude had taken the bus across several states to see her family and had been able to spend time with my grandmother during her visit. I imagined that Maude had tried to remind my grandmother that even though dreams might have shifted, she still could remember who she was and who she wanted to become. I imagined Maude as the bright floral print to my grandmother’s light blue solid. I imagined her reminding my grandmother of the laughter and the brightness and how she too had a bit of polka dots and paisley and bright flowers inside her.
I imagined that I was able to do that for her too…