It is one of the absolute greatest pleasures in life to touch base with old friends after many years and to find the connection has not frayed or weakened as old wiring might do. Instead, the sparks all fire right on cue, and laughter, intelligence, and camaraderie ensue as they always had, as if no time had passed. Such joy.
I had this pleasure recently, visiting an old high school friend and two friends from graduate school. Our visits were brief but only in time. It seems that with true connection, a few of hours of conversation can fill the gap of 17 or even 24 years.
While school reunions are common and splendid, and I will be attending my 40th high school reunion this year, it is this type of one-on-one visiting that warms my soul most powerfully. To have a bird’s eye glimpse into friends’ lives. No room for assumptions or wonders. Just the reality of their lives, and their kindness to welcome me in. It is somehow a gentle reassurance when seeing first hand the artwork they hang, the flowers they grow, the children they raise, the partners they have chosen. To break bread, share a glass of red, and toast to old times, new times, and to this very moment in time. Grateful, hopeful, and kind.
Facebook or other social media, for all that they offer, cannot offer this. The whole business of posting or messaging or waving, yes, yes, yes, whatever. I do appreciate the connections offered, and, in fact, without FB, I might not have so readily found these dear old friends. But I have always preferred to sit down and embark upon a quiet intimate chat, even at those big old high school or college parties we all attended back in the day. It is still my preference.
The aforementioned visits actually book-ended the key reason I traveled: to visit with an old friend, and roommate in my Flagstaff home, who had just had her second baby. And this visit gave me all the connection that I speak of here in this post, with the bonus of babies. Rocking and holding the littlest one soothed my soul as nothing else in the world can do. And visiting with a toddler reminds me of how great our species is, and re-ignited some hope in humanity that I have lost of recent. His curiosity and readiness for absolutely everything was inspiring and sometimes simply hilarious.
My conversation with Billie picked up and left off as often as the river bumped over rocks. We hiked and sat beside streams, creeks, lakes and lines of apple trees, and in between she tended to the little ones and I assisted as I could. We talked about all that transpired in the six years since we saw each other last. All the love, the loss, the success, the fails, the food and the trails. And of course the babies, her boys, the girls, or er, my two grown daughters.
(There will come a time soon when I do not refer to them as my grown daughters. Just ‘my daughters.’ Or maybe I will forever refer to them as my girls, my babies.)
We hiked with me carrying the wee one on my chest. His calm heart loving the race of my own as we turned the corner of another switchback. (My calves still hurt.) Billie had her toddler on her back, and trekked like a mama mountain goat. No surprise there.
We stopped for a diaper change, or Everett’s curiosity, or for my water breaks or for me to catch my breath. If it wasn’t for the babes, and this older woman, Billie would have traversed the mountain up and down without blinking, and I don’t think she ever panted.
With this part of my sojourn I rekindled one friendship, and made three more as I met Billie’s family. And remembered fondly my own days of early motherhood, and how we all managed friendships, diapers, and interruptions: with grace, poise, and bit of spit up, just as my friend Billie does now.
I did not mind one bit when her toddler called me Granny Annie. Yes, indeed, I thought, and thank you very much. Don’t mind if I do.
I am fortunate to have the resources to make the trip to do this type of visiting, and I return to my home, its colors and art and music and smells, all a little bit richer and clearer because of this time I have shared with old friends.
And this poem came to mind, for whether the interruption is from a tired baby, a stubborn toddler, or two decades — good friends, just pick up where they left off. Every time.
When we talk on the telephone,
to exchange the up-dates,
the needs of our daughters
punctuate our conversations,
leaving us speechless
with no time to proofread.
they put an end
to our sentences.
(Never our thoughts.)
They bring us to pause,
cause us to stop:
silent as a space.
We begin again
by the dashed abruptness
of their “Get off the phone now!”
They draw us away
with their parade
through the neighborhood
or they pervade
the cul de sac
with just a little
Or their sweater buttons
have come undone.
Their zipper’s stuck again.
But we are an ellipsis.
We can allow our girls
to get us,
quick as a comma,
off the phone.
Riana’s in the front yard,
I have to go.
Okay, okay. Bye.
Because we understand
how to fill in the blanks.
STET. Close up the line. Insert.
Photograph by yours truly.
So sweet, Anne! I thought of you throughout the week & knew you were having the time of your life, reconnecting with friends! I am grateful for our friendship & happy to have spent time with you! Such beautiful memories, such beautiful blessings! Much love! ♥️
This is wonderful to read. There is nothing better than a friendship that stands the test of time and distance. I have my childhood friend of 53 years and we only get together rarely, once every 3 or 4 years and it is like we have never been apart! Love that level of comfort!
Thank you for reading, and for your kind words. I feel so fortunate to have lifelong friends and I can’t think of better content for a blog post. Cheers!
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