The late-afternoon latte was warm in my hands as we walked up and down the wind-stained streets of Birmingham. Beside me, my oldest and dearest friend, in town for family. Leaves kicked across our path.
A friend asked me recently if I’ve succeeded in finding as much time for breaks and play as I have for work. A good question. There is nothing as revitalizing as a walk with a friend in a fall afternoon, especially a friend who has known me since before I knew myself well.
When my parents built our house, I was a toddler and Melissa was, too, in the house next-door. There is a picture of her at one of my birthday parties, before there is furniture in my childhood living room. She’s wearing a white party dress, a party hat and holding a square play purse, offering a buck-toothed smile.
She’s the one who went to camp with me, near and far. She’s the one I visited school with when we had different breaks. She’s the one I spent summer afternoons running through the yard and swimming in the pool and talking.
And when we grew up, she sent me hand-written letters from college, lived nearby in New York at the same time and then when we moved to places far and wide, it was to see her that led me to board planes and carve out time away to explore and reconnect and realize that the best friendships sometimes come early in life and stay with us for the duration.
As adults, we make new friends based on our life situations and sometimes they are friendships that stick. But the ones with people who knew us before, who knew us in the quiet moments and who felt our family homes were theirs, too, those are the grounding relationships that help us find a sense of place in this world.
We are both writers – coincidence? Or inspiration?
Yesterday, as we bid each other farewell, we remarked about how we notice our parents aging a bit, and it’s unsettling for us both – we both revere our fathers and admire our mothers. If they’re aging, we’re aging. This life passes so quickly. We are at the point where we realize it has to matter, we must make a difference, for any of this to be worth it.
It’s the kind of thing you can only say to someone who knows you deeply, at the soul level. And I am so damn lucky to have a friend like her.