Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Picking Up Where We Left Off...

I spent today with my friend Grace.  She used to live in the duplex next door to me when I moved back to Providence after my divorce from my first husband in 1985.  Grace and I became fast friends.  I was working full time at a law firm and she stayed at home spending a lot of time with her sisters and their kids and helping her boyfriend, who later became her husband, with his jewelry business.  We had dinner parties together and hung out with her nieces, sisters and my daughter on the weekends.  On rare occasions when my daughter was sick and unable to go to daycare or school, Grace always offered to babysit.  

Grace and I would talk about everything, and I mean everything.  She knew all my secrets, even the embarrassing ones.  She knew the few secrets I never even told my husband and I knew hers.  There was always plenty of drama, for her with her sisters and future in-laws.  For me, there was the ongoing saga of adventures with the big love of my life, my one that got away.  Grace was there through all the sordid details.  We were partners in crime and confidants, spending countless hours talking, laughing, planning, dreaming and simply hanging out.

She and her husband eventually bought a house in a neighboring city and I had my sons.  Shortly after my son Michael was born, Grace gave birth to her beautiful daughter.  We were invited to Zoe's first birthday party but only stayed briefly as my boys were quite a handful when they were younger.  We exchanged Christmas cards every year, but other than that, we had lost touch.  

I was pre-occupied and overwhelmed, wrapped up in a world of autism and food allergies.  My social life was pretty much nonexistent up until a few years ago and I lost touch with not only Grace, but a couple of other friends I used to hang around with in my single days.  

But I really missed Grace.  I missed the fact that she did not live next door to meet up with on a whim. I missed our spontaneous and planned dinner parties.  I missed being able to share what was going on in my dysfunctional life and hearing what she was up to.  She had her new daughter and also suffered through some health issues.  The months apart turned into years.  I would run into her father-in-law at the market occasionally and catch up a little on the news, but we never connected in person until last week.

I was putting my bike on the bike rack when a tan SUV pulled up in front of my driveway.  I thought it was my neighbor but it was Grace!  We stood outside and talked for an hour and it was like I had seen her a day ago, not 10 years ago!  She hadn't changed a bit.  We made plans to go out for coffee and fully catch up.  She texted me later that day saying how she was smiling all day, so happy that we talked.  I was smiling all day too, reminiscing about our escapades two decades ago.   Today we lounged on her couch with our coffees in hand.  We talked about the kids, our husbands, our mutual family issues.  We have many differences, yet are so alike.  Again, for the second time in a year, I was thrust back into the 80's.  25 years ago.  Half a lifetime for both of us.  Then we went to lunch and talked some more.  She gave me a new perspective on things I had been struggling with this year and I hope I did the same for her.  

I don't know why it took us this long to reconnect.  I don't know why she picked last week to drive by.  But I am so grateful that she did.  This time I know we'll make the effort to not lose touch.  Although the convenience of living next door is gone, a city away is not that far.  I have been smiling all day, looking forward to our next 'play date' when the kids will meet each other for the first time!  And this time, I simply will not allow life's ups and downs to interrupt our friendship.  True friends are a rare commodity.    

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