So where was I?
Oh right, the flight
landed. And then I went to my hotel,
which was not good. The lobby was cute,
very cute actually, so I thought it was going to be a great place to stay: white
book covers on all the books (turns out the books were all bibles though) and
green apples everywhere, but my room smelled like it had been smoked in, so I
ordered up dinner and went to bed holding my nose.
The next morning I went to the Peninsula and spent the day in the
spa waiting for Cindy, a.k.a Ali, to arrive. We had plans to meet in the outdoor rooftop cafe at 12:30. I got there at 8:40 am. and got a facial,
which promised to make me look ten years younger. And by ten years younger, I guess they meant swollen and shiny.
By noon I couldn’t wait anymore so I went outside to the
Rooftop and got us a table. At 12:15 I
ordered an iced tea and while I was ordering, Cindy walked in. She looked like a movie star and every one turned
around to see who she was. Either that
or they were turning around to see why I was suddenly sprinting across the
room. I ran right into her and hugged
her, and was shocked to realize that I must have shrunken over the years. Somehow she was at least five inches taller
than me and I was wearing enormously high heels. She never mentioned that she’d gotten taller. I naturally assumed she’d be the same height
as the last time I saw her. But people
We didn’t waste so much as a single second on small
talk. We got right into exactly what
really happened with our lives from the moment we left Mademoiselle until
now. You can’t do that sort of thing
with most people because most people typically make up all sorts of great stuff
about themselves when they haven’t seen someone in eighteen years. But not Cindy. She tells it like it is, with
both hands up in the air at all times, somehow trying to define and contain the
context of each story with some sort of invisible frame. I tried to get her hand motions on film, but
she stopped doing it as soon as I started filming. I tried to get her ordering her food too, which is priceless, but
she doesn’t order the same on film. In
real life she does it like Annie Hall, but on film she does it like a normal
person, which was too bad because I wanted my daughter to see her in action. There
was so little of the Annie Hall version of her left, I wanted to savor every
The thing that impressed me most about Cindy, the girl who
had made such an impression on me in my twenties that I put her in my book, is
how she is no longer anything like Ali. I still love her just as much, but for completely different reasons this
When she was Ali, back in the art department of
Mademoiselle, she was this sweet, funny, vulnerable, accident-prone beauty who
had no idea she was pretty or smart or how talented she was. I loved her for that. I loved her for getting so nervous when
someone walked by her that she’d just slam the phone down even if she happened
to be talking to her boss.
But that Ali is long gone. Cindy is now a grown woman. Just
as beautiful, just as sweet, but incredibly confident, accomplished and
mature. She’s so together and
articulate, I was tempted to call her Mrs. Sinclair.
We talked about her career designing textiles, her
experience adopting her daughter from China and her husband, who she loves and
adores. And I must say, I can’t really blame her. Apparently the man can take apart an entire refrigerator and put
it back together again. We’re still
working on changing light bulbs in our house.
We talked about old friends and new friends and how she
learned over the years to distinguish between people who make her happy and
people who suck the living breath out of her. She made a point about how important it is for our girls to learn how to
take care of themselves, as opposed to using up all of their energy trying to
take care of people who might not necessarily want to be helped. She also made another very important point
that I want to share with my readers because I have a feeling many of you are a
lot like Cindy and me and you might fall prey to the same sort of people that
Cindy and I have always been drawn to.
There are, as well
all know, all sorts of toxic people in this world. Most of the time, we aren’t affected by other people’s poison
because we have the sense to stay away from people who are unappealing in their
negativeness. You don’t exactly have to
pry yourself off some screaming, preaching lunatic walking down the street. You can see at a glance that he’s not your type. But then there are those other people— the ones who are extremely
appealing in their negativeness. Their
arrogant charm is an opiate for unsuspecting pleasers who think to themselves,
“If I can get that asshole to like me, then I’ll have really accomplished
something. That would make me, what?
like the coolest person ever.”
But it doesn’t work that way. Ask Cindy. All that really happens is that you end up married to
a screaming lunatic with a subtler rap.
After being married to two of these guys, Cindy’s brother
told her, “Next time, go normal.” And
she listened to him and that has made all the difference.
It’s amazing how much I miss the other Cindy. She was a
character in her own right. The type of
person you never forget, but I wouldn’t trade the new Cindy for anything. I learned so much in the short time we were
together. I came away with so many
words of wisdom to pass on to my daughter and I felt like I’d made a new friend
instead of reconnecting with a person from my past.
After a few hours, Cindy had to leave to pick up her
daughters and I had to go back to my hotel to ice down my face in time for the
signing that night. After she left, I
bent down to put my camera back in its bag and in doing so, I noticed that my
hair was dipping into the sauce of our half-eaten chocolate cake. I quickly jerked up and the contents of the
camera bag spilled out all over the floor.
“Are you okay?” our waiter asked, running over to help me,
as I scrambled to collect everything.
“Yeah, I’m okay,” I answered, “Actually, I’m more than
okay. Just channeling an old friend.”