The word “interlude” keeps popping to mind. Perfect wordage for the times, don’t you think?
Here’s why. When I looked it up, I found that an interlude is a transitional moment where an audience can catch its breath, a splendid opportunity to refocus onto a bigger picture.
Recent months have ushered in many interludes, and levity from such transitional moments have given me pause to review the situation.
Interludes were prevalent but not alway welcome during the jumpiness of childhood. One episode that changed my life trajectory was the interlude which occurred after kindergarten where I stretched out with my mother on their cherry double bed to listen to her alto-ish voice reading the four volume set of The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh.
She warned that there were few pictures inside but that the sound of author A. A. Milne’s words were enchanting. She pulled me in by saying that I would never forget the charm of his characters.
In The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff describes that in Milne’s books, “magnificent contentment” comes by way of the simple conversations therein. Also Hoff says that by breathing in these books one can gain appreciation of “who you are and what you’ve got. ”
Still (breathing out) we know that this promise is incredibly uneven. Blessedly, I am reminded again and again that at very the least we all can have friends.
Such magic is expressed on page 33 In Now We Are Six where My Mother read:
Us Two by A. A. Milne
Wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,
There’s always Pooh and Me.
Whatever I do, he wants to do,
“Where are you going today?” Says Pooh:
“Well, that’s very odd ‘cos I was too.
Let’s go together,” says Pooh, says he.
“Let’s go together, “ says Pooh.
“What’s twice eleven?” I said to Pooh.
(“Twice what?” said Pooh to Me.)
“I think it ought to be twenty-two.”
“Just what I think myself,” said Pooh.
“It wasn’t an easy sum to do,
But that’s what it is,” said Pooh, said he.
“That’s what it is,” said Pooh.
“Let’s look for dragons,” I said to Pooh.
“Yes, let’s,” said Pooh to Me.
We crossed the river and found a few-
“Yes, those are dragons all right,” said Pooh.
“As soon as I saw their beaks I knew.
That’s what they are,” said Pooh, said he.
“That’s what they are,” said Pooh.
“Let’s frighten the dragons,” I said to Pooh.
“That’s right,” said Pooh to Me.
I’m not afraid,” I said to Pooh,
And I held his paw and I shouted “Shoo!
Silly old dragons!” – and off they flew.
“I wasn’t afraid,” said Pooh, said he,
“Im never afraid with you.”
So wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,
There’s always Pooh and Me.
“What would I do?” I said to Pooh,
“If it wasn’t for you,” and Pooh said: “True,
It isn’t much fun for One, but Two,
Can stick together, says Pooh, says he.
“That’s how it is,” says Pooh.
Confidents were front and center with Milne and my mother. This is a handy trait for a mother to have. She pushed me to be a welcomer and maker of friends. She was tentative in this category but desired such a trait for me.
At the same time parameters in our relationship were brilliantly clear…. “I am not your friend; I’m your mother.”
My first friend was Leslie Harris. We were born the same year and before we began school our mothers arranged afternoons of play. She lived a short walk up Francis Square where I lived: past the church, turn left on her street Joyner Avenue.
She was cute and tiny with black hair and big eyes. The goings-on in our house was different from hers. I was sure that I should have had an older sister like Leslie did. Susan was so exotic. No way to remedy that said my mother.
Leslie was a joyful playmate. Also impressively matter of fact for one so young. She knew a lot of things that I did not know like when she said it is time to shave your legs. I did so right then and there in her parents’ bathroom.
Where my parents tended toward uncertainty, her parents were relaxed and content. Her father cooked breakfast. They raised rabbits in a hutch. Her mother had time to talk. I liked it there with Leslie – she gave me a lift, a new lease on life.
My newest friend is Mindy Orman. We first met decades ago after my family moved to Nashville. I was playing Barbies with a new church friend when the big sister came into the room sporting fabulous braids and introduced herself. “I’m Mindy,” she said.
When I got home I said to my family, “Just so you know, I’m naming my Barbie… Mindy.”
This first encounter did not count because we were grey-headed before we connected through a women’s club. During the quarantine, Mindy mailed out knitted prayer flowers (my language of love: knitting and flowers). We began to talk and talk and talk and write cards and encourage each other. Life has its challenges. We sigh. We laugh. Mindy gives me a lift, a new lease on life.
Along with the Make New Friends (one is silver and the other gold) song that I learned in round during Brownie Scout meetings and Milne’s fine gang of besties, the sacred rite of friendship was emblazoned on my heart. If I had the nerve, I’d get a tattoo on this old skin proclaiming such.
‘Cause take an interlude and embrace it, no matter the age friends are an elixir of encouragement and also a clue to higher aptitudes. We need the sort of companion who can figure the sum and shoo the beaked dragons alongside us. We are better beans for it.
And what a treasured dream to pass this info over to young ones. P.S. – never stop pursuing a new friend. As Winnie the Pooh tossed out with sparkle: “You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”