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Beautiful photo. Beautiful band.

Even Marilyn bit her nails....

One day, I'll get back to you. (c/o: lonelyplanet.com)





Sometimes I wish there was a way to keep in touch with every person I've ever loved.  I'm not talking about romantic love... I'm talking about the whole, genuine, simple, bread-and-butter love we have for a person we appreciate because of who they have both chosen, and happen, to be.  Many of those I miss are ones I’ve come in contact with through work.  You know how it goes: you work somewhere for a year or two, get to know everyone as you spend multiple hours with them every week sharing lunch breaks, bitching about the lazy girl, comparing notes on borderline-sexual-harrassment guy, building your middle-management-encouraged team-work skills…  Then, one of you moves on.  You talk about keeping in touch, but you lose the phone number, the address; you wait too long to email; you start to wonder if the boundaries have once again thickened and you are no longer a familiarity, but somehow estranged... A broken engagement, a lost cause, the favorite t-shirt that no longer fits so gets stuck at the bottom of the dirty clothes pile.

I think of all these people that I have so enjoyed the company of, and how lucky I was to know them.  How fortunate to have some of them make work a better place to be, even if we didn’t have much in common.  Then I remember that if we all did, in fact, keep in touch with each of these people personally, it would have to be a full-time job.  Our phone bills would be at least 5 times as high as they are now, and we wouldn’t be able to leave the computer except to go to the bathroom, because eventually, as time goes on, and more people are added to the list, we'd be returning as many emails and status comments as there are letters to Santa Claus.

I know what you’re thinking— and no, MySpace and Facebook aren’t really solutions because at least half the people you’re 'friends' with usually end up keeping things fairly impersonal.  It’s just not the same in most cases, though it’s great in some. 

But perhaps what makes these fleeting friendships so sweet is precisely that they are temporal.  They are usually simple and uncomplicated, and come with a set of boundaries.  We have no obligations to eachother beyond everyday kindness.  There is no stress of a real, long-term friendship or relationship, though those kinds of things have their own pleasures, too, of course.

So, these temporary friends remain fond memories.  Hilarious memories.  Sad memories.  Weird memories.  I worry I'll forget them.  This is one reason why I like writing.  It is a record.  A history.  An exercise in memory, albeit imperfect. 

A woman who I'll call Marta made me think of all this.  I'm not sure why she popped into my head before I wrote all of this in the first place, but, all the same, here we go....

Marta was a middle-aged Mexican-American woman I worked with at a restaurant during my freshman year of college.  While I don’t know if I would recognize her walking down the street anymore, I remember that she had pretty skin.  Her sense of humor was silly and sometimes bizarre.  I think she was a bit tired from life— children, divorce, etc., etc.— but she had one of those spirits that seemed to never quit, and as tiring as life was, she found things to laugh about.  We would stand behind the food-line and talk about who the hell knows what, whatever we wanted.  She would tell me about being kind of a hippy in her younger days, about her random boyfriends.  We'd talk about her kids, about food, about which guys who ate there I had crushes on, whatever.  I don't recall that she ever worked very fast, though steadily enough.  She was caring and interested in people, even the ones just passing through for dinner. 

There is one thing in particular that I will always and forever remember about her.  She was dating a man at some point.  I believe he was a little older than her.  She said he was very nice, had a good enough job.  He had a nice beard, a beard that she liked.  He liked Marta, and they enjoyed eachothers company...enough, anyway.  She had also told me another time about some artist boyfriend from a very long time ago, when she was young and single.  He sounded very intriguing and interesting to her with his...uh...‘artsy ways.'  But, he moved away, or perhaps just broke up with her.  Either way, this guy had gotten into her heart many years ago, and he never quite got out. 

With the current beau, as nice as he was, she just never sounded all that excited about him.  I think she tried to have something serious with him because it sounded like he enjoyed her very much.  But finally, one day, in not as many words, she basically admitted that she just couldn't muster up any truly great feelings for him.  As she put it,


 "He has no talent.  Only a beard."


In my book, this statement is an entire Faulknerian chapter.  It absolutely gleams.  It is completely and utterly her.  It's brilliant.  It says so much, in a strange, funny way, not only about her, but about him.  "He has no talent.  Only a beard.


So, anyway, where ever you may be, Marta, I hope you are fine and dandy... I hope that if you haven't already, one day you will find that special man for you, with not only nice facial hair, but talent, too... Or maybe, something even better....



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