Tonight I am thinking about tea and old friends, not necessarily in that order. I just got email from Jax, who I haven't talked to in a couple of years. She's in Toronto now, and my return email was babbly and maniacal. It's funny how I can let all this time slip by with someone who I am so excited to hear from--it makes me wonder why I didn't make the effort to hear from her sooner. It's my constant lament, I know too many good people to keep up with all of them. May we all have such problems.
Jacqueline was my best--in fact, my only--friend in Vancouver. We met at the health food store where we worked. We were both recent transplants from Ontario, and we were both musicians and we were both the kind of people who think all. the. time. so even though we thought a lot of things that were different, it was easy to like her. Also, she has this great cartoon smile and kind of a cartoon laugh, too, loud, ha-ha-ha. The brightly coloured walls in her apartment were a revelation; I swore to paint every place I lived in thereafter and she taught me about glazes and colourwashing way before design tv had its way with my brain. She was present for the Great Mouse Hunt of 2001, an event which ended with my cat dismembering said rodent while we stared at each other, appalled and giggling, and said things like "it's the natural order of things. Oh, Maggie, hurry up and kill it!"
Once, when I was working the main cash and Jax was restocking the pastry case, she brought a box out from the cooler. I guess she was just in a rhythm and this was the next set of cookies. She couldn't have been looking at the boxes too closely, because this one was labelled in giant serial-killer handwriting MICE INSIDE. "Jacqueline!" I hissed between gritted teeth, trying not to alert the lineup of customers "Put the box down!"
"Huh?" she said.
"Put. The box. Down." She looked at it and her eyes went round, at which point she dropped the box on the floor (still in full sight of the customers) and fled, leaving me stifling hysterical laughter. (Is that like Intel Inside? Are mice a new kind of processor?)
Yes, the Vancouver stories have this recurring mouse theme, if you're wondering. Be grateful it isn't rats.
When I broke up with my boyfriend and moved back to Toronto, Jacqueline packed all of my stuff. Putting things in boxes is not my strong suit at the best of times, and I was too miserable to think. I just brought her things and she did it all, numbering the boxes and creating a master list so that when I needed to find things in the several months of upheaval that followed, I could just look it up and discover that my cds were all in box #4.
When I discovered that I was hopelessly in love with spook, at a time that was so bad it should have been funny (I was just reconciling with Vancouver-boy, something I'd been working on ever since we split. Uh, yeah.) she listened to me talk about it for a whole afternoon and then said "Well, when you put it like that, doesn't R. sound kind of boring?"
Most of these memories involve tea in one way or another. Tea is a kind of omnipresent thread in most of my relationships with other girls, and some of the boys. Somehow "let's have coffee sometime" sounds exactly like "I want to have sex with you," but "let's have tea" is an invitation to talk. And, in this case anyway, talk. And talk. And talk.
These days, tea doesn't happen enough, except in the literal sense. I grab tea around five in the afternoon ("grandeearlgreyteapleasehowyadoinPeter?") when I get to the part of the day where I want to slap the people. By the end of my hasty lunch break, I usually feel able to go back out and be pleasant. The tea miracle.
The friendship miracle is that I don't feel far away from her at all, even though it's been ages, even though I have no idea what she's been doing all this time. We'll have tea. She'll tell me. No mice will be invited.