For some reason, I am thinking about the times when your life changes. Not in a maudlin way, there is too much maudlin in the world right now, but in a way where you can’t see the world the same way again.
This is my moment.
When I was fifteen I found my best friend. It was instant, as her sister, who introduced us, suspected it might be. Going home to her house was an adventure for a girl from a beachside suburb. Her parents were European and were cultured in ways I had never seen. They drank wine and listened to jazz music while they cooked dinners of unusual and delicious foods. Dinner conversation would continue for hours about authors, art and politics were discussed. My friend slipping easily in and out of her parents mother tongue and English. Her sister, a dead spit for young Greta Garbo, curled up, feline like on a dining chair. Quieter than her sister but with the same sense of humour; a little but wicked and a whole lot silly. Everyone smoked inside and drank a little wine with dinner. After I expressed an interest in American and Russian literature, their Dad lent me Nabokov and encouraged me to read Capote. Both authors are still favorites of mine. I still have his copy of Lolita. (Sorry)
It was the first time I had ever heard of the idea of watching a film directors work, not choosing a film for the movie star. I watched films directed by Wim Wenders, Orson Welles and William Wyler. I revelled in the music of Bizet, singing along and dancing to Carmen. Pretentious? No. Just living the way the Europeans do, even if they were in suburban Melbourne.
A Room With a View became a much-loved film and book. I remember chicken soup with little tiny button mushrooms. Billie Holiday, red lipstick, Henry Moore and vintage clothes. Talking in bed, laughing, promising to be each others children’s god parents, taking photos and planning trips to Paris.
A world was opened up to me for those few years I spent with my friends family and I am grateful. They opened my eyes and my mind and nothing after would ever be the same. There was more packed into those years than other friendships than I have had for a decade. It wasn’t just a friendship when I look back now, it was my family as well.
I needed to say thank you for everything. I didn’t get to say it, things got in the way but I am saying it now. Thank you for including me, for listening to me, for valuing my opinion and laughing at my silliness. Thank you for showing me how other people live and doing it with such style. I know life takes funny twists and turns and people leave the party a little earlier than expected but know that I think of these times as some of the happiest of my life.
A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another. Buddha