I was not prepared.

When I first started working at my current job, I shared an office with Sister Nora. She was 78 when I met her and did not clear five feet – not by a long shot. But she was a nun, and I was intimidated by her. That is, until one day I turned to ask her something and saw her reading a romance novel at her desk. And I mean a real romance novel, with Fabio on the cover.

I silently turned back around, blinked, and thought, “…I was not prepared for that.”

It was a true moment of surprise, and how many of those do we get as adults?

I immediately warmed to Nora. I learned how much she loved romance novels, horror movies, hot tamales, and soap operas. We spent one Mardi Gras eating cupcakes and watching “The Bold and the Beautiful” in our office. I started picking up romance novels at Goodwill and bringing them in for her. For her eightieth birthday, I made her a card featuring her favorite things.

Nora's heart

Nora got sick in early 2012. Or, sicker. This time she went to the hospital, so I went to visit her. She wasn’t expecting me and when I walked in, she was on the phone with another coworker of ours.

Nora looked at me. It took a second, then said into the phone: “Oh! It’s…it’s the girl who gives me all the dirty books!”

Yes, she knew my name. But maybe she knew me a little bit better.

This St. Patrick’s Day, it will be one year since I last saw Sister Nora. It was her birthday. She was wearing a paper party hat and opening cards with her friend; it was a good last memory.

Now I sit at her old desk. I read more romance novels than I used to. And I remember how the nun who read all the dirty books became my friend, and how much I miss her. I was not prepared for that.

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Sick days and life lessons

I am sick. My self-diagnosis is allergies + cough + whatever it is that makes me unable to stay awake for 3 consecutive hours.  It doesn’t matter, whatever it is it has kept me on the couch for the better part of today with nothing to do but watch cartoons and action movies and talk to my friends in a whiny manner.

I’ve had a few variations of this conversation today:

Me – I’m sick.

Friend – Oh, I’m sorry. Do you need anything?

Me – No, but thanks.

It’s very nice of them to offer, although of course what they mean is “please don’t breathe on me.”  And of course what I mean is “Yes, I need an immune system. And ice cream. And a puppy.”  I cannot ask for these things, though, because I am an adult.  Except around my mother, and she wouldn’t bring me a puppy anyway.

I think I was still holding out hope for a visit from the ice cream fairy when a few hours later, this conversation happened:

Me: I should probably go get ice cream.

Lacy: I have wine.

Me: So you support this decision, then?

Lacy: I support every decision.

Yep.  That’s ten years of friendship summed up in four beautiful sentences.

So with Lacy’s blessing and the addition of a pair of pants, I went out and got some ice cream (and some ibuprofen, because I am not against conventional medicine, I just prefer desserts).  I brought it back to my apartment and cracked open my freezer, and what do you suppose I found?

A half-empty tub of ice cream.

ice cream tub

Right in front. Not even hidden behind the vodka or anything.

I’m sure there’s a lesson for us all here somewhere.  Sometimes what you’re looking for is right where you left it? No, that’s the tagline to Sweet Home Alabama.  Hmmm, be less ridiculous? No, that’s the opposite of what my life is about.  How about next time you start jonesing for sweets, maybe check your immediate surroundings first before driving off in a feverish state to the pharmacy, only then remembering that your car is threatening to die and you might be stranded with the local hobos and hooligans who populate the parking lot at night, and they might expect you to share your ice cream.

It may seem specific to you but I’m 80% certain this is something I’ll need to learn at least once more in my life.