The invitation came sailing into my inbox a week or so ago. We all knew this date was coming, but it kept changing - the invite nailed it; 17th September, Mitch's Farewell Lunch and Afterfunction.
It was freezing blustery cold waiting at the Ferry. I was in desparate need of a young, male companion to snuggle up to and shelter from the cold. Alas, alak, not such animal was waiting for the 12:15pm ferry from Half Moon Bay to Auckland city.
The journey in was nice. The disembarking spectacular with a trip on the gangplank and a splat on the dock. Thank goodness it was there to break my fall! *arg* on all fours in front of those people who sit along the quay watching the ferries. At least they showed their appreciation by applauding.
First thing I did was phone James: as you do. Second thing I did was phone James, as he didn't answer the first time. Third thing I did was answer my phone because it was ringing to find James ordering me to stop making his pocket vibrate. Seems a call from me rates lower than a head massage - go figure. His new haircut looked smart and he waited while the lady at Tank made my wheatgrass shot. We needed coffee after that, so went over to the Squishy Chairs.
I was fidgetty and nervous, it was 1pm and we were ordering coffee "we're going to be late, James" I hate being late. He assured me everyone was going to be late "its the learning curve michelle, they're always late!" I got more fidgetty and bossy "drink up james you're not drinking we're going to be late!" So he finally decided my nagging was best stopped and got up to walk downstairs to Thai Chilli. We were about 15 minutes late, but on walking in saw that only 5 or so of the guests had arrived and the Host had only just arrived. James nudged me "I TOLD you we weren't late!" I had to apologise, and admit that he was right although I never trust him I should.
That said and done, it was down to the small talk, the chitchat, the "how have you been"s and the "what are you doing"s and the smart arsed comments from me and the laughter from them. I know, it's a gift, what can I say.
Lunch was nice - I had Pad Thai and everyone thought that was such a good idea, everyone around me had it too - made the waiter laugh. I managed to make James laugh so much he was crying at one stage - a real feather in my cap to be able to do that.
So after Champers and Reisling, it was off to Maddogs and Englishmen for some gentle socialising. More mingling, much more drinkening. Gareth, a contractor who was part of the Vodafone project/Sydney-side arrived which was a HUGE surprise. He was one of the people Clayton and I trained for the Rapid Deployment stuff and ended up being a real godsend, especially to me a few times during the project. A lovely, funny, Irishman.
Mitch's friends from the Navy showed up: I thought they were just a gaggle of random blondes but seems they were with us! or we were with them or something. They all went on to Parnell's Iguasu but I decided to catch my 11:30pm ferry and come home.
Walking home, the blustery wind had stilled to nothing. The water was flat and glassy. It was a bit chilly but the walk warmed me up. All uphill to home. I didn't realise until this morning how much I had had to drink.
I hope Mitch had a good day. I hope Mitch understands how much we all love her. Her straight talking, black-and-white attitude, her fierce fairness and complete loyalty even when she has to repremand certain people for being being inappropriately demanding in meetings *coughs*. Her late nights counselling me down at the Provedor - yes Scott, I needed those times with her and thank you for sharing your wife with me in that way. For inviting me to her home, and introducing me to her son - to her life. She is one of those people in your life who is a beacon: stands taller and surer, with the gift of care and clarity, surefooted and generous. I have missed Mitch since I left the learning curve, not seeing her every day is an ache sometimes.
I love Mitch, and am proud she counts me as a friend.