Friends #7 and #8: Joy and Omar

I spent a second day in the Bay Area to catch up with some more people.

I met Joy, a childhood friend, and her 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Autumn, at Jimmy Bean’s in Berkeley for breakfast.  Autumn was a trooper because she’d been sick the night before, but had bounced back and played quietly while Joy and I talked.  We both think the last time we saw each other, we were about 8 years old.  She remembers that one year we trick-or-treated together dressed up as 50’s girls with poodle skirts.  Our older brothers had been friends (maybe from Cub Scouts?) and met first, and then we became friends.  But since Joy went to private school and I went to public school, we didn’t see each other after a certain age.  I loved sitting down with adult Joy.  What’s interesting is that I remember Joy as a white-blond, quiet girl.  The best word to describe my impression of her is that she was “fair.”   Timid is too strong a word.  Delicate is too wussy.  But I remember her as fair.  In complexion, she is still fair.  She and I have nearly identical hair color (strawberry blond). But she is definitely not quiet anymore.  She is spunky. She is fiery.  Even a little outspoken at times, but in the best possible way.  I so enjoyed our time together.  We come from the same suburban, midwestern culture, and have ventured from it each in our own way.  It was nice to have someone understand what childhood birthdays were like or the danger and daring of the neighborhood sledding spot: King Kong Hill.  What I will take with me from my time with her, though, is her gracious attitude.  If we would bemoan something from our childhood, she would quickly come back with a response of understanding and compassion, eliminating judgment.  This happened more than once in our conversation, and it’s been a long time since I’ve watched someone strive not to judge others with such quickness and regularity.  It was quite lovely.  And it was fun to watch someone I knew as a young child be a mother to a young child.  She’s awesome at it.

Autumn investigating the knit covering for the street sign.

Awesome mom Joy and daughter Autumn

We had a nice walk through a park, but neglected to find a scenic spot for a picture. Joy's husband commented, "It looks like you guys went to the mechanic together."

I ventured to a different part of Berkeley closer to campus for lunch at Cafe Intermezzo with Omar.  I got there a little early, so was able to enjoy people watching on bustling Telegraph Ave.  And boy, does Berkeley have some good people-watching!  Omar, a freshman clarinet player in marching band when I was a senior, arrived and we sat down to lunch.  Omar is somewhat stuck in my brain as a 14-year-old freshman, but now he’s getting a PhD in theoretical economics at Berkeley.  Omar and I (along with Leslie from the previous day and several other band mates) were a part of the honors kids achievement culture in high school, and we talked about some of the pros and cons of achievement in the presence or absence of passion.  I’ve had the conversation more than once on this trip that many of us wouldn’t be able to get into the schools that we went to anymore.  Such has the level of talent and competition increased.  Another fun conversation topic with Omar was his recent marriage!  Both Omar and his wife are family-centered, moderate Muslims.  They met through family and got engaged and married very quickly.  Some people would look at the situation from the outside and come to conclusions, but sitting across from Omar, he was so settled and confident about it.  So sure and caring when he talked about this wife.  The little 14-year-old had most certainly become a grown man and a caring husband.  And he extended kindness and care to me.  As we were saying goodbye, he offered me any help that I might need, and he meant it.  I had to return early the next morning because I had forgotten to get a picture with him. I told Omar how much it meant to me that he was so kind and generous toward me.  His response: “Well we’re more than just Facebook friends, Ann.”  That we are, Omar.  That we are.

Had to go back the next day to get this shot with Omar in Berkeley.


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