“Live to the point of tears.”
Years ago, I was recommended by a dear friend to meet a young woman called Ana Abdul. ' You have a lot in common" I was told , moreover , she was also the owner of a store in downtown Manhattan as famous as yours in Sao Paulo - now that you have just moved to New York , it would be perfectly appropriate for both of you to meet , and I will be more than happy to make that introduction".
Always busy with my own activities, I never paid attention to my friend advice and my life went on for several months trying to get organized in the city. My Mecca at the time was the Apple Store recently opened on Fifth Avenue and 59 street just in front of my apartment.
Everyday I was parking at the newly inaugurated Genius Bar for hours trying to figure out not only my hard transition from Sao Paulo to New York but also from a Sony to a brand new Mac. Since the opening, lines were very frequent at the store and one morning , the only exemption, instead of having my nose glued to my computer screen , my eyes were captured like a magnet by two tiny elegant bracelets embracing a thin wrist adorned by a red butterfly tattoo.
Impressed with that charming accessory and immediately , almost without thinking , I address the gracious bracelet owner who was also patiently waiting on a seat next to mine the following question:
"Excuse me, Miss...Could I ask you where you got these beautiful bracelets?" " Of course " She replies " It's a female artists here in New York, but if you want I could give you her direct contact info so you won't have to waste your time looking for them in stores ".
Overwhelmed by such kindness and generosity and before I have a chance to answer, I hear calling my name by a tiny genius with thick black glasses. In a rush I turn to the young lady and ask her: " You do not have an American accent, Are you Italian? She replies, with a laughter, No, I am Brazilian! " More intrigued than ever, I hear a second call , I hand her my business card and asks her to contact me if possible as both of us had to go to our respective Genius appointments.
On my way back from the genius , she waits for me and asks me if am the " Joelle of Sig Bergamin " , the ex partner of my Sao Paulo store , she tells me she recognized the logo in the card and confides she has heard a lot about me from our friend in common. The coincidence is that that same friend is my guest at the apartment that week from Brazil.
Ana and I meet a few days later, over our favorite espresso at Saint Ambroeus . She is about to move to Sao Paulo after more than 15 years in the city where she's been the co-owner of the New York first fashion concept boutique, Language where clients and friends like Liv Tyler, David Bowie and Gwyneth Paltrow were habitué. Later she joins the Hearst Magazine as a fashion accessories director of Harper's Bazaar.
Ana is a little tired of New York City, and mother of a charming little 4 years old personality called Francesca, she decides to give the city a break for a ' bath' of sunshine and family down in Brazil. Anything I might in the city she'll be there for me and I vice versa for her in Sao Paulo.
After mutually checking each other out on our websites social networks and correspondence, we pleasantly discover that both shared similar professional experiences , the same passion for India, jewelry, shoes in general, Macs and travel.
We met in Capri, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and New York during the following years as great companions. We could spend a week side by side without exchanging more than a few sentences because we needed to rest and enjoy the sun sea and seaside landscape, or we could spend hours sleepless producing ourselves for Carnival parties and prestigious social events .
Ana was elegant, among the top 10 or 50 in America, she never liked me to mention it but she truly was. If we had to walk in the street of Rio de Janeiro,nobody would notice, but yes, she wore super high hilled vintage Saint Laurent wedges and creamy old nightgowns from chic Paris boutiques while calling for cab in the middle of the local crowd who only wore havaianas and shorts.
Ana lived often to the edge but was the best of mothers and extremely creative in her personal and professional life. She was a workaholic and her avant-garde taste was an example for many to copy in more than one continent. She did not know how to hide her emotions, and those whose acts , for some reason she did not appreciate, were confronted directly and unmistakably.
My wardrobe is filled with beautiful expensive mousseline shirts with vintage crystal pendants from her designed collection sold at Daslou, the most prominent fashion store in South America under her brand and piles of colorful T-shirts with peace signs, skulls and hearts from La-La-Land her most recent creation with another partner and friend. Wherever I wore any of her gifts of which many were kept on long waiting list people stopped me offering to barter or to purchase what I was wearing. " It's Ana Abul" was my reply.
Ana Abdul, is no longer here with us , maybe I could have done more for her and I wish I could. Today I learn that as much one loves someone , that person is never to be taken for granted .
Ana is teaching me that a friend , every friend is a cherished gift from the universe like a flower, a Victoria Regia maybe like those we caressed under Imperial Palm trees in Rio de Janeiro one warm afternoon...
I just wish you my dearest friend that you are now happy and mostly surrounded by many more Victoria Regias in your own hopefully very peaceful La-La Land.