Star Spotlight 29: Mel

My friend Mel is a miracle.

I knew I was going to like Mel from the moment I met her. This was surprising to me, as Mel isn’t necessarily the type of person that I’d generally gravitate toward. But Mel has a magnetic pull that to me is distinctive, compelling, intriguing, and irresistible. She has a unique way of navigating the world, and a unique way of viewing situations. She has a vantage point that is profound in its frank honesty. She has a remarkable ability to scrutinize a situation or a person, and see what really exists underneath the surface.

Because of this, I found Mel not only instantly likable, but also instantly trustworthy. I love to hear Mel’s opinions about why things are the way they are, why people are the way they are, and what truth may exist that I often initially gloss over. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that most people aren’t able to see the things Mel sees, or feel the things that Mel feels. She has clear, palpable reactions — not to what a person says as much as to what she understands between the lines. She’s able to have a full-sensory experience of the situations she’s in, and her resultant capacities for discernment are astonishing.

Speaking of “full-sensory:” Mel is a deeply sensorily aware woman. This sometimes makes the world difficult to navigate; situations that may seem benign to many, to her are a caucophony of sounds, smells, sights, feelings, and thoughts. Mel is still learning how to extricate herself from such deep sensations, and I am amazed by her bravery everytime she continues to engage with the world, despite all the overwhelming stimulation that she is surrounded by. She often has to make a conscious choice to : a choice that entails serious determination, perseverance, and courage. A choice that, at its base, has the understanding that there is so much she cannot control. Mel has taught me so much about how to surrender to this knowledge (though granted, admittedly, we both don’t generally go down without a fight).

Mel’s brain can whir at breathtaking speed — this, too, can be both a blessing and a curse. She’s able to experience so many things (as is inevitable, with her heightened sensory attunement) while simultaneously analyzing at a high level, assimilating thoughts and experiences, discerning whether or not the place she’s in and the people she’s with are safe, and planning how to proceed, accordingly. She has some skills that would be invaluable for a zombie apocalypse, but admittedly can sometimes come in handy even amidst the “normalcy” (is that a thing, really?) of our daily lives: she finds an escape route in nearly every room she enters, she allows her mind to whirl through “worst case” scenarios and begins to preemptively problem solves, she takes everything she hears with a grain of salt until she’s really able to ponder, analyze, and determine if it’s worthy of her trust. Her intellect and intuition are equally powerful, and arm her with quite the toolkit of seeing the world from an all-encompassing, all-seeing, all-knowing perspective. Sometimes she gets tangled up in conditioned behaviors or thought patterns; sometimes her inner voices trick her into trusting them vs trusting her mighty head and heart; sometimes  — but always, ALWAYS, that omniscient perspective is available to her. And the more and more work she does on herself, the more and more I see that side of her making itself known.

Speaking of work: goodness gracious, this woman can work. She can work long, hard, tirelessly. And when I say “work,” I mean work on all sorts of nuanced levels. Yes, in her past, she owned and was sole proprietor of a highly successful accounting firm in the Bay Area; yes, she had clients in high places; yes, she managed and executed meticulously, perfectly, at as high of a level as the best in her field of work. But she works hard on herself, too.

Mel is one of the most insightful people I’ve ever met. I value so immensely her ability to listen to what I share, and then reflect back to me in a way that’s unerringly supportive. Talking with Mel feels like a warm blanket on a cold day: she bundles me up in her words, makes me feel better simply by being there and saying “wow, that sounds really hard” or “gosh, that sucks, i’m so sorry.” She’s not all soft and flowery, though — Mel can really tell it how it is. She’s one of my primary sources for “real talk:” who I go to when I’m needing someone to metaphorically shake me out of a funk, or remind me of my amazingness, or remind me of all the areas where I’m slacking and need to devote energy. When I ask Mel to “tell it to me straight,” I know she will. Lovingly, always, but also always without sugar-coating. She’s frank and to the point. She tells me what I need to hear; tells me what I already know but don’t want to admit that I know. This is probably one of the top two traits that I value highest in a friend – this, and being deeply respectful (can I throw a wicked sense of humor in there, too? And loving and nurturing?) – and Mel’s got both/ all, in droves.

Speaking of respect: Mel and I share this understanding of respect being a baseline, a non-negotiable, for all the people in our lives. Even when Mel’s not the #1 fan of someone, she treats them cordially and respectfully. Once again, this certainly doesn’t look like the saccharine-sweet “sugar coating” that so many people do to mask their dislike; nope, Mel will be straightforward, will share her reservations or her frustrations or whatever her truth is in that moment. But she will never do it in a mean or rude way; never act from a space of spite or unkindness. If she seems harsh, or lashes out, it is from a space of protecting herself and the others she holds dear. It is never antagonistic or combative. It is grounded in unwavering love and care, and a fierce sense of what is right and what is wrong. Yet another thing I value about Mel: that moral compass that’s always in alignment, that’s always pointing her in the direction of her values.

Mel is well known by many in her life for a number of things: her fabulous snarkiness (that could put nearly anyone else’s snark to shame!), her incandescent smile, her infectious and absurd humor that can a whole table of even the most sombre participants laughing. Her brilliant craftiness: she is the most talented rockstar crocheter I have ever met, and is able to whip out even the most intricate of patterns with ease and perfection. Her stories: oh, Mel has some doozies! Vegas, New Orleans, road trips across the country — and plenty of craziness in Oakland and the Bay Area, too. She has a limitless supply of colorful, fantastical tales of her days growing up, going to concerts, and experiencing the plethora of things her life has entailed. Music: forget about it! Mel has one of the best musical palates I’ve ever encountered. I love asking her for recommendations, and she has never once failed me (in that domain — or, come to think of it, in any other). Mel, you are a wonder and a blessing, and the world and everyone you know is truly better because of you. I know you are taking a break from Le Interwebz for a few more weeks, but when you’re back on, I can’t wait to share this with you. I love you so much. Thanks for being such an amazing friend and support when I’ve needed and wanted it the most. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for us both — and so proud to have you in my life.

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