I count myself lucky to say that at every job I’ve had, I have always met at least one person who turned out to be a close friend well after the job was over. I might be fudging on the Mole Hole a little bit, because my friend Dorothy and I applied for that job together in high school and spent many long hours dusting the pewter case and beheading unwanted Beanie Babies. At my college job at Saint Francis Hospital, I met my friend Jennifer, with whom I shared an office while she was expecting her second daughter. I always considered it a point of pride that when Becca wasn’t a fan of most people, she was always cool with me. In Pittsburgh, my first job at UPMC South Side introduced me to my beloved “Uncle Joey,” aka Joanna. And of course, at my current job there are any number of wonderful friends, but especially my twu wuv Laura.
There was one year in college when I wasn’t working at the hospital, and that year I was doing an internship at FedEx. The division I worked for was sort of a stealth group of ghost writers who produced bid packages for multi-million dollar accounts that FedEx was attempting to secure. This was a sweet gig, first of all because it paid twice what I made at the hospital, and also because once they realized I was pretty sharp at catching grammatical errors they let me start being creative and writing some of my own bids. However, the place was notoriously feast or famine: one day there’d be nothing to do but search for things to attack with the label-maker, and the next day we’d be there for 14 hours because we’d print 20 copies of a 300-page document and then realize every page had a header with “RFQ” instead of “RFP.” This crucial error, I believe, is the true meaning behind the phrase “Mind your Ps and Qs.”
It was on a third consecutive day of famine that I met Silvia. I do not do downtime well; the thought of taking a day off with no plans kind of makes my teeth chatter. So there I was, alone in the room with the printer, having a quick cry because I was so bored I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through the day (DRAMA), when one of the vice presidents walked in to give our newest employee a tour. I am sure I slunk off in embarrassment, but Silvia didn’t hold it against me and it wasn’t long before we were watching soap operas in the breakroom at lunch. “All My Children” was good that summer, yo…at least until the return of Ryan Lavery. What a waste of pecs that character was/is (I understand he is still around and has since romanced Erica Kane herself, although it’s been a while since I could stomach that show).
But what really made Silvia my pal for life was a little thing called Hurricane Elvis. In July 2003, my alarm woke me up in the morning, and I hit snooze as always. When it went back off again, it was accompanied by an insane howling wind. The storm only lasted a few minutes, but the wind reached 100mph and the entire city was a disaster area. We lost power immediately, and save for a one-hour period later that night before our street’s utility pole literally burst into flames, we were without power for the next seven days. After one nightmare evening at my grandparents’, I happily accepted Silvia’s offer to stay with her and her husband Helder in their electrically-functioning house. That was the beginning of many lovely evenings of home-cooked meals and movies, which I grew so fond of that “Silvia’s kitchen” was near the top of my list of things I’d miss most when I moved to Pittsburgh.
And while I can never go back to that kitchen because Silvia and Helder have moved to Fort Lauderdale, I can now go to their new kitchen AND to the beach! And they have two insanely beautiful daughters, Isabel (almost 4) and Anabela (almost 2), better known as Izzy and Bela. Izzy is like a tiny, adorable Jungle Jack Hanna and is always catching lizards or dragonflies, or on my most recent visit last month, a basil-devouring caterpillar she named Pillow. Bela is a total sweetie who magically morphed into a chatterbox between my last visit in September and this one, and would happily give me a “Hey, Elissa!” when I sat down for breakfast in the morning.
So naturally I like to chase them around with the camera, as does Silvia, who is also a wonderful photographer (and a seriously awesome knitter). Here are a few shots from last month at Deerfield Beach and on the playground. Oh, and you get a good look at Pillow for good measure too.
Special bonus tidbit! I decided for fun to go back and read my account of Hurricane Elvis from when it actually happened, and here’s an exchange from my grandparents during the “Everybody Argues About Sleeping Arrangements for Three Hours” debacle:
Fella would prefer not to sleep with Granny, since she evidently throws a midnight tantrum if he turns the light on before walking to the bathroom. (Granny: “There was a time when I couldn’t keep you away from me.” Fella: “Yes, there was. But those days are through.”)
I love them.