I had lunch with an old friend today.We’re exactly the same age, and we’ve known each other since we were five.Our backyards butted up to each other, and we spent the long summers together lying in the grass, or riding our bikes, or climbing onto the roof of the local elementary school and pondering life from a dizzying height.She was a tomboy, and I was Miss Priss, but we loved each other like sisters.We were inseparable.
Her dad died when we were in fifth grade.It was an unfathomable loss for her whole family – especially her mother, who had married the love of her life.The mention of him still brings tears to her eyes 35 years later.We tried to stay friends through the difficult middle school years, but like all young girls, we developed at different rates and had different interests.The final blow was her mother’s remarriage and the family’s move to another neighborhood.Her new home was not far away, but it separated us by the abyss of different high schools.
We tried to keep in touch, but the familiar rhythm of life together was shattered.She went off to college in North Carolina, and I in Virginia.We seldom saw one another, and it seemed so awkward when we did.How could two people who’d been so close drift so far apart?After college, I got married, and then she did the same.We attended, but did not participate in, one another’s wedding ceremonies.We continued to keep in touch through Christmas cards, but I was living in California, and she in Maryland.We moved back east, and something drew us back together.It was more than just the physical proximity.I’m not sure what.Perhaps it was her insight on the unhappiness of my marriage before I’d dared to see it myself.Perhaps it was that we were each finally comfortable again in our own skin.Perhaps it was simply the enormous gravitational pull of shared childhood experiences.Whateverthe reason, 30 years later, I am grateful.
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