My friend, Gwen, is an interesting person. Interesting as in different or unconventional. She would be so pleased to hear that description. “Oh, Linda, there’s nothing worse than boring people,” she used to say.
We met at work years ago. She was in her late 40s but looked older. Her face was lined and her thick, unruly bob was completely white. She would never consider colouring it because she doesn’t much care about trends or what others think of her appearance.
Her best feature, besides her quirky personality, is her beautiful blue eyes. She makes continuous, wide-eyed contact during a conversation. Her blue eyes, magnified by her glasses, are riveting and hard to look away from. Of course, you would only know that if she decided you weren’t boring and engaged with you.
Gwen is curious and always up to try something new. One evening as we were driving to a concert with her then teen-aged daughter, Gwen announced that she wanted to be an “older model”. (This was before the industry tried to be politically correct by signing plus-size and older models.)
“But why, Mom?” her daughter asked plaintively from the backseat.
“Well, because the world needs to see older women more and know they have value. And someone has to pave the way.”
Her daughter was quiet for a moment. Then in a small voice mixed with pride and embarrassment she asked, “Yes, but does it have to be you?”
Gwen used to ride her bike everywhere. Mind you, this was not a light, modern, multi-geared bike. It was a heavy, old-fashioned one, with a little metal basket attached to the handle bars and a rack over the rear tire for a saddle bag. The kind you could picture a sweet, older lady in a colorful sundress and straw hat riding, basket filled with wild flowers. Gwen was heartbroken to find it gone one day. She couldn’t imagine someone would steal another person’s bike.
That is her downfall. She feels things deeply and, despite her cheerful outlook, this can send her spiraling to dark places. She always bounces back, but sometimes it takes a while. That’s why I’m sure something is wrong.
I left the company years ago and she retired and moved to the country, but we meet at least once a year for dinner. Last September, it struck me that we hadn’t seen each other in a while, so I emailed her to set a date. When I didn’t get an answer, I called her cell phone and left a message. Again, no answer. I tried a few more times but no luck. This is not like her. I worry that she is sick or something has happened to her. Without contact information for either of her kids, though, I have reached a dead end.
Today, a year after my original email, I sent a new one. In it, I simply tell her that I understand if she no longer wants to stay in touch, but I just want to know if she is OK. I miss my eccentric friend and I really hope to hear back from her this time.