Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Weekend With Old Friends

There's something really wonderful about old friends. There's an ease, a comfort, a space which time and circumstances have created. It's a privilege to be there.

I attended a wedding over the weekend. Sixty-some revelers watched and smiled and cried and drank and ate and danced the night away. Children-turned-to-adults, looking nothing at all as they did when I knew them at the beginning of the century. For them, it's been an eternity. For me, it's only a blip on the screen of my life. Yet the memories we shared are fresh in all of our minds.

The groomsman and his mother who shared the evening of the Winter Formal with Little Cuter and her then-best-friend were every bit as delightful on Saturday night as they were in the 1990's. That mother was the one who told the dressed-in-their-finery-and-feeling-their-oats ninth graders that the pictures we wanted to take were just as important to us as the entire evening was to them. “Stand in front of that door and smile!” she commanded, and they did.

The memory was as fresh to me as if we were all in my living room right then and there. His sweet smile, her acerbic charm.... nothing had really changed. There were a few more grey hairs, but not much else was different. I was far from my home, further still from where I'd known them, but none of that mattered.

On Monday, I had lunch with women I've known since elementary school... and junior high school... and high school. We ran in different circles back then, and we didn't spend much time together outside of class. But we reconnected at our 40th reunion, and with Facebook and email and random trips east and west we've established a new relationship. There's shared history, but from several different perspectives. We are delighted to share a fancy restaurant and distant memories whenever our travels bring us to LA or NYC or Phoenix … even to Tucson.

Hometown restaurants have disappeared, as has one of my friends' actual home, a victim of Hurricane Sandy. It stood in the middle of the block, and it took no effort at all to recall the feeling of standing on the stoop at the top of the stairs to her front door. Not the inside, not what we played nor what we said, just the sensation of standing there, looking across the street at Hilary's house. It's been 50 years; I have it in my heart right now as if it were yesterday.

We shared news – sick friends, newborn babies, pregnancies, travels – but that was hardly the reason for getting together. There was a sense of patching together the past, of returning to a time when everything was waiting for us. I walked to the car with a more youthful spring in my limping step.

On her way home, up and down Mulholland Drive, the newest expectant grandma among us dropped me off at my evening's destination. More old friends, this time from my young adulthood, welcomed into their home for the night. Everything is perfect there, made more so by the beauty of that perfection. Artwork from their travels and sculpture from Chicago and a hot tub under the stars bathed my eyes and my body in warmth. There's nary a boring corner; a plush monkey was resting on the upper corner of the couch, behind the cushions, not hiding so much as discreetly placed.

As with all their treasures, he carried a story. I was aware of bits and pieces of the setting and the situation, and as I sank into the pillows and listened to my friend tell the tale, I was awash in peace. Far from home, but only as far physical distance was concerned, I was wrapped in the comfort of old friends.

If there's a better blanket, I've yet to find it.

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