Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm thankful for Sue and Nail Plastic

Across the street from my parents' house is a house that old people live in.
Well, most of the houses on the street are occupied by old people. There are the ones with the lap pool in their backyard that makes their house worth like 12,000 more dollars, who always bring over huge bunches of daises when they're uprooting for the winter, then there are the ones whose house is next door and yellow and covered with ivy, but they're always gone on missions. There are the ones who have pink fiber optic-laced carpet in their living room. There are the ones who are crazy and used to call my parents in high school when I got home late to make sure my parents knew. They'd hear and peer at me driving by super late and call my parents. Every teenager in my neighborhood has a special eye-roll reserved for those guys.

The house directly across the street used to have a man named Dick Davis living in it, but he died when I was younger. I don't remember anything about him except for when the circus came to town and he let my little sister and I come over early in the morning to watch the elephants setting stuff up in the Provo valley below the cliff of his backyard. He was old, and he died. Now Sue and Jerry live there. They are old, but not quite.

Sue is 68 and has brown hair and brown eyes. She reminds me of a little sparrow because she's very spunky and round and knows a lot. She runs the ward newsletter. She knows all about computers. She knows a lot, and she talks a lot, and since she talks a lot, we get along very well. She and her husband Jerry have lived in the brown brick house across from mine for about five years. They have a cat named Stinky and another one whose name I have never actually asked, but when they talk to it, they call it something that sounds like "Skanky". I'm pretty sure that's not the cat's name, though, so, who knows. They have other cats too. They also have a candy machine with Jordan almonds in it sitting in their front hall.
Sue and Jerry both graduated college as old people, and their little neck banner things from graduation hang on the railings of the stairs just inside their entry. Jerry's is embroidered with a message to Sue. They really love each other.
Sue and I sit together at church sometimes. We've just begun being good friends this year, and this summer, she started doing my mom's nails. Sue does nails. Sue is very good at nails. My mother pays Sue to do her nails.

I've never really been interested in having Nails, that is, long ones that are hard and scratchy and take maintenance that you can't get dirt underneath. They're for people who don't fall down and scuff their shoes all the time, people with clean cars and perfectly coiffed hair. I'm more the do-a-crappy-job-of-painting-my-nail-stubs-bright-orange kind of girl. But, towards the end of the summer, Sue offered to do my nails for free. Because I needed "a lift". Now that I'm becoming a grownup and stuff, I figured I could take a few lessons from having long ladylike elegant nails of elegance. So, I decided to go ahead with it. Sue puts this stuff on them that makes them grow crazy long. Mine are getting long now.

Sue went on dialysis about a month ago, which she was hoping she wouldn't have to do. It's no fun, she tells me. I wish she didn't have to be on it, but it is making her feel a lot better. She's got this crazy bruise on her left arm from where they poke her. She's there at dialysis for five hours a day, three days a week. She really likes Ben, one of the nurses, and asks me if she can give him my phone number. The alternate days she's not at dialysis are when I go over to get my nails done and to chatter.
I go over every ten days or couple of weeks, now, and sit and talk with Sue about my life and her life and what she does with hers and what I should do with mine. Stinky sits on my lap and Sue and I sit in her bedroom with a folding table between us, and Law and Order humming on the TV in her background, and she paints thick clear plastic carefully onto my nails with a clear paintbrush. I always want to make cookies for her but she's not supposed to eat a lot of stuff. Sue's bedside table has an open box of Milk Duds on it, always. Her giant Apple computer sits on her desk and there's a plaid fleece blanket folded on the chair under my bum.

I alternate my hands in and out of this little light box which cures the plastic on each nail, and Sue tells me about her granddaughter and her sons, and health insurance and how ridiculous it is with dialysis. I looked at her wedding pictures the other day, and told her how my best friend had a veil just like hers--a little poof right up on top of her head. Sue tells me how she thinks I should go on a mission, how I need to finish school, how everything will happen in good time. I tell her about being nervous to finish college and about who is talking to me, and who isn't, and how much I miss people sometimes, and about a new restaurant I went to this week. I ask her how she knows things. She tries to convince me to put Halloween stickers on my nails, and I say a vehement no, and we laugh.

I'm very thankful for the "lift" Sue gives me each week or two, for our friendship, for the life she's lead so far that I learn from, for her wedding pictures with bridesmaids in pink dresses and little pillbox hats, for how similar I have found myself to be to this grownup who I was pretty sure I had nothing in common with, for my nice long nails, for Stinky the cat, for the open box of Milk Duds that reminds me I don't have to be old when I get old just because I'm old, and for Sue.

Thank you Sue.

Up Next In The Warm Leaves/Crisp Cider Thankfulness 2009 Installment:

I'm thankful for A Good Remedy for Beard Rash.
and the definition of beard rash, if you're not quite sure what that is. But no details.


alayne said...

I love your writing. I lived with my grandma for a semester and learned a lot about how much "old folks" can be such dear friends. :)

Allie said...

Ya know, I'm so comforted knowing there are people like you in the world.

Heidi said...

Sue reminds me of my temple friends. :) I have friends 25-nearly 90, and I love it!