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Thursday, December 17, 2009

mrs. greene, dwight's guitar, charlotte and ms. popp

Two posts in one day? Sure. We'll give it a go, the coffee's brewing (and I already have about six cups of it running through my bloodstream) the fire's growing, the Christmas tree is lit, and I don't have to be at my grandmother's until 1 p.m.

Last night, I spent the evening caroling and catching up with an old friend. A very delicious way to spend a night of break, if you ask me.

At 6 p.m. we were off to a nursing home to spread some Christmas cheer. Mrs. Greene (the mother of three very dear friends I grew up in the church with), Alex and I spent the better part of the twenty minute drive discussing how our society has forgotten the elderly. Other cultures hold their elders in high esteem, the love them, they cherish them. America, we have forgotten them.

The St. Giles resurgence troops came marching in the Woodland Heights nursing home with nothing but our voices and our youth pastor, Dwight's, guitar. Many of the best days of my life within the past three years include Dwight's guitar. We spent half an hour singing to our sweet friends. Some of them sang along, loudly, and one precious couple even got up and danced.

They requested "Just a Closer Walk With Thee." Dwight willingly obliged, and we all sang the first verse together.

After we sang, we spent a little time visiting with our elderly friends.

"Is this seat taken?" I asked a woman sitting alone at a round table by the window. It was decorated with paper snow flakes.
"No, please join me," she said. Her name was Charlotte. Though I was supposed to be flutter from table to table, I spent the entirety of the evening with her.

Charlotte told me that she was a "candidate for salvation." That she had a task to do, that she was working on a project. An angel had visited her and told her that she was meant to "save the Lord's people like Moses had." I was heartbroken. I couldn't understand a word she had said. She was talking about dead celebrities, and court dates, and where she grew up. I was in a maze, contorted, twisting, and my pen just could not follow where she was leading me. But, I listened, I heard her, I loved her.

I asked her if she had any plans for Christmas.
"No," she said. "I don't expect anyone will visit me. We're supposed to have a party."
A sad silence fell upon us, then she confided in me that she was taking a "crash course" in literature.

She loves books. This was something I was infinitely better at understanding. We discussed Melville, James, Shakespeare, the greats. I told her about my obsession with Arthur Miller. She approved, winningly. I felt a tap on my shoulder, it was time to go. I clasped her hand, and wished her a Merry Christmas.

On a lighter note, the actual singing part of the evening was wonderful. I had no idea there were so many verses of Jingle Bells - this one in particular had me in stitches while singing:
A day or two ago,
The story I must tell
I went out on the snow,
And on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh,
He laughed as there I sprawling lie,
But quickly drove away.
***

After that, I met up with an old friend at Cafe Catura (for my Harrisonburg peeps, a Dave's and Greenberry's hybrid, if you will).

She came in with her hair curled and pinned, bright red lipstick, and a silver cigarette case as a wallet. It was from my favorite boutique in Carytown called Bygones (those in search of a little more "deco" in their lives should check that place out).

I realized, sitting there, that she is the reason that I love Audrey Hepburn the way I do. Though I had grown up on Roger's and Hammerstein musicals, etc., she introduced me to Breakfast at Tiffany's and for that I will be forever grateful. Thank you, Ms. Popp.

We had about seven years of catching up to do. Right off the bat, it was if time had stood still, and we were freshman in high school again. We sat at our table for forty-five minutes discussing love, boys, high school, majors, abortion, feminism, friends, work, college, siblings, parents, Christianity and Gandhi before we realized we had forgotten to order.

At one point, during our marathon chat session, she began searching through her bag for her red lip gloss. Mary Poppins sat before me as she pulled out clutch after clutch, pouch after pouch, tube after tube of red lip(sticksglosses, balms...). Sixteen (yes, I counted) varieties of red lipstuffs were sprinkled over the tabletop. She called them her "war paint." I told her I had written a short story about a barista who called her lipstick her shield as the man she loved marched toward her. She asked me if she could write a play about it.*

We sat in the cafe for the rest of the evening. The place emptied, and it was 10:30 before questioned the time (the cafe closes at 10...whoopsies). Nothing had changed. It was encouraging. It was a blessing.


*Beth, if you're reading this, you most certainly may!


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