Gratitude: Friendships, Old and New

Mel, Susan and me at Cups.

My new(ish) friend, Susan, and I sat down at Cups coffee shop in Grandin Village Friday evening with my old friend Melanie Almeder and I was filled to the brim with gratitude and have been since.

Mel and I met nearly 20 years ago and there was an immediate connection, one both of us knew would be lasting. Mel is Irish as Sean O’Casey (and a better writer) and is wickedly funny, with an impish smile that is simply irresistible. She’s had a difficult last five years, during which I have seen her little, but that absence seems to be repairing itself as her body repairs (and replaces in some instances).

Mel teaches English at Roanoke College and has been the Virginia teacher of the year. That means she’s good at it. She’s also a poet (On Dream Street), who is finishing her second book of poetry and beginning to think in terms of a novel, something I’ve been pushing on her for years. She’s a natural storyteller.

Susan, of course, is my adventure friend and has been for a little more than two years. We do a lot together when Margie isn’t here or is simply too worn out, and she and Mel are a alike in many ways that count to me. When Mel left Friday, Susan gave me the highest complement: “I like your friends. All of them.” She is especially drawn to Mel for the same reasons I am. You can’t really say anything to me that pleases me more.

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