Isn't it funny how one tiny happening can immediately send your brain to something entirely different? Do you know what I mean? A scent or a song seem to be the quickest route down memory lane. Whenever I smell a woman wearing Rose Water perfume, I automatically think of two people; my Mamo Rita and my dear friend Missi because they both wore it. And I can't listen to the song Cherish without turning into a big ball of mushy tears. When I was about 16 years old, my uncle transferred some silent home movies to video and that's one of the songs he used for audio. So now whenever I hear it, all I see is the scratchy home movie image of my dad laughing on the floor and holding me when I was about one year old. It makes me cry. Those emotional assaults always take us by surprise but they are always so welcome. It happened to me at work the other day.
I took an order for calamari and went to the computer and rang it in like I always do. I must have been in a hurry, because I accidentally hit the button for macaroni and cheese instead. As soon as the ticket printed in the kitchen, I was there to tell the chef to ignore the mac and make a mari instead. He was fine with it and I went on my merry way. About five minutes later, the chef put the calamari in the window and said, "Hey, your mac-a-mari is ready!" I thanked him and when I picked up the plate, I realized what he had said. "Mac Amari." That is the name of one of my best friends in the whole world. Her initials in college were M.A.C. so we always called her Mac. After she got married, her last name changed to Amari, so now she is Mac Amari. Of course the chef had no idea he had just yelled out the name of one my favorite people in the world who I have known for 25 years and don't get to see nearly often enough because we live so far away from each other. So there I was in the kitchen holding a plate of calamari and suddenly overcome with emotion. "Oh my God," I thought. "I have not talked to her in forever." As table 7 waited for their appetizer, I took a mental break and flashed back to college where I first met Mac.
I thought about the time we went shopping together at The Gap and we both bought the same pair of pants and the same shirt but in different colors. Yeah, I bought ladies pants, so what? We went back to her apartment and we put on our nearly identical outfits and did a photo shoot.
I thought about how on my first Thanksgiving away from my own family in 1985, she took me to her parents house in Alamosa, Colorado. Her family embraced me and welcomed me and got me through the sadness of not being with my own family in Texas.
I remembered how she used to have a dry erase board on her dorm room door and I wrote a poem on it once that she liked so much that she kept it there all semester and eventually printed it out on her typewriter and put it inside a photo collage that I still have.
Meanwhile, table 7 is wondering what the hell happened to their appetizer.
I flashed back to the time I had a layover in Denver just months after moving away from there and saying goodbye to all my college friends. Mac and several others met me at the Denver Airport for my two hour layover and we had a picnic at the gate before I got back on the plane and flew away from my best friends in the world.
I remembered how I spent my 24th birthday laying on her couch because I was sick and she still made sure I had a wonderful birthday surrounded by friends and a cake.
All of this came from ordering mac and cheese instead of calamari, but I was happy that it did. It reminded me that no matter what my job is, I have friends that make my life special. I have always felt lucky to have so many friends. There are people who I met in the second grade that I could call right now and talk to about anything I wanted. Friends are important to me. And for those thirty seconds that it took for me to carry the calamari to table 7, Mac Amari was the most important one. I put the plate down and they told me thank you. "No," I said. "Thank you." The rest of the night plodded on but the mood was good because I had had one of those most surprising but ever-so-welcome emotional memory assaults that reminded me how truly good life can be.
Call your friend today. Tell them they are important. They'll be glad you did and you will make their day. I promise.
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