A Night in December

We got a big snow dump last night, the same storm that moved over the northeastern US. It was quite beautiful. I went out and shoveled our walk around 9:00 pm, then again, with Morgan at 2:00 am or so. After that it stopped snowing, and this morning, though still below freezing, our walk was still pretty clean. I don’t even have wonderful photos of it all. I did take some at the beginning of the snow in our back acreage, but it was on our better camera and I haven’t transferred over the pics yet.

Tonight is a fire and some wine and winter music.

Earlier this evening I had a wonderful Zoom reunion with my best friends from high school. There are five of us, and though we have occasionally emailed throughout the years, we hadn’t seen each other or really talked for quite some time. I kind of wondered what we might find in common these days, but the minute we saw each others’ faces it was like no time had passed, and we spent a lot of time catching up and then laughing at old memories. “We had a blast back then,” my friend Nance said. Blast is a word I still use. It was a word we always used.

Memories of us–Nance and me–age 12, going on a 3-day canoe trip up in Wisconsin. I had never canoed before. She hadn’t either. We went in circles and laughed so hard at our complete ineptitude and finally got broken up by some camp counselor and partnered with some guys a bit older than us for a few hours. Mine kept saying “dip” every time I was to dip my paddle into the river. It was such a funny memory that I shared it with my husband many years later and let him know I don’t like the word “dip,” especially repeated. Well, my husband’s rather a prankster so of course teases me with it now and then. Nancy talked about that specific memory tonight, and it felt good to share memories not just with my blog, with myself, with my husband–who gracefully laughs even though he has no idea…it felt good with these girls of my youth. The only ones who have these memories with me.

We since have had children, most of us have gotten married, most of us still working. Years have passed. Lifetimes have passed. When I was in California in the early 2000s, my friend Nancy came to visit on a business trip, and that is the last time I saw her. My friend Lisa–my best buddy in later high school and “sister”–shares many memories with me. We have talked sometimes…When my dad died. When her dad died. When her mom recently died, and some of us attended her memorial service virtually. We talked about our past, how we loved Led Zeppelin so much and our crazy old times. I specifically remember her going to college, and I drove up with her family to help her move up to Michigan to her campus. I cried all the way home. Her mother soothed me all the way. She’s the one who died recently.

I hadn’t seen Alicia since high school or shortly after in our many summer trips to summer cabins in Michigan or Wisconsin, where we drank beer on pontoon boats and water-skied and dreamed of someday guys. Laurie and I keep in touch, but the last time I saw her was so long ago when kids were very young or nonexistent yet and we all met at her country house in Illinois. I’m listening to the ”Hallelujah” chorus right now, from Händel’s Messiah, and still have a photo of our concert choir during freshman year of high school, with Laurie and me in it. Every Christmas our humongous high school combined various choirs, choruses, bands, jazz band, and orchestras and performed this–among other music–in a combined gymnasium where all the parents and friends and other students would watch. I can still see little me and Laurie in that photo.

The Chicago suburbs were a good place to grow up back then. We had so many opportunities. We talked about our prom dates (Nance and I double-dated with guys who were friends). I remember walking on the beach with my date Bob, who, when I took off my nylons, said it reminded him of a vodka commercial. We talked about that tonight and giggled and laughed and giggled some more.  Bob would have probably joined us tonight as he still lives near Laur, but doesn’t like social media–which, hey, neither do I really–but I’m hoping we can talk him into joining us at some point. He was one of my best friends for so long and I only went to prom with him because his girlfriend already had a date before they met.

I don’t even know how to explain the bond we all shared and still do. Of course, we’ve moved on. We’ve met new friends, and we’ve been remiss in keeping in touch. So really getting back in touch (maybe Covid inspires more virtual communication?) was amazing. We decided before leaving to make another date in January to talk again.

It’s like we changed but didn’t. That seems like one of those contradictory truths in life that grabs you and surprises you from time to time. It’s a truth that brings past and present together, that defies linear time, that makes us live between the lines together. We remember each others’ parents, some dead now. We remember life before growing older, and yet here we are, growing older and still love each other.

I have always kept my old friends in my heart, and it’s good to know I was in theirs, in the many difficult years between.

Well, afterward, I padded around the house with snow all around–the fire burning brightly, the room warm, the cats sleepy. And though 2020 sucked in many ways, what could I think but that life is good sometimes, and tonight was one of those nights. I turned on some winter music and sat down to write.

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