Have you ever reconnected with old friends you haven’t seen or talked to for years and years?
How’d it go?
We sometimes shy away from those get-togethers. They can be like a nightmare high school reunion, all awkward and filled with long conversational pauses and everybody desperately looking around for somewhere else to be, somebody to be rescued by. Please.
Barbara and Dave are my friends of longest standing (I refuse to call them “old friends”). We hadn’t seen them for a decade, and that was a brief visit over lunch on their turf. Before that, there was a seven-year gap between short get-togethers there, and 10 years before that.
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Way too long.
We’re all on Facebook, thank heavens, so we were able to keep in occasional contact recently, commenting on the others’ posts, sending a private message or tagging each other.
We were keeping our toe in the friendship pool, but hadn’t been able to really dive back in.
Oh, we wanted to see each other more often. But we’d all gone from raising hell to raising kids, being busy with careers and businesses, growing up and growing older but never really growing apart, although it may have seemed so at the time.
Plus, we lived 430 miles apart, with no easy flights in between. The drive has steep climbs and descents and looooong stretches of open-road boredom.
So, when Barbara texted me, saying they had made motel reservations in Cambria and maybe we could get together, I leapt on it. Of course! We must!
Anticipating the reunion stirred up so many memories.
Barbara and I had bonded immediately when we met, decades ago, at “The Swing Set,” a dance club.
We were a lot alike (single, long-legged and quick-quipped), but also very, very different.
She was slender, a statuesque 6 foot,1 inch tall, model-glamorous Miss Universe contestant. I was a fairly ordinary-looking, round Munchkin, more than a foot shorter than she was.
In our dance routine together, she used to kick way over my head. Repeatedly.
Barb had clouds of gorgeously flamboyant red hair; my brunette hair was in a pixie cut.
She was a dancer. I was a copywriter and radio announcer.
Barbara continued to perform occasionally and learned to play golf well, but also was a government employee who passed the bar exam, launched her own law firm and subsequently become a judge.
A judge that dances, travels and golfs. Yup, that’s my friend Barbara.
Meanwhile, her DJ/very good golfer husband Dave became widely known as the area’s best TV weatherman, a job he held for decades.
I was so excited about seeing them again.
But still, there was an overlay of nervousness. Would we find enough to talk about now after all these years? Would we still have anything in common?
Would we still be friends?
After Barbara and Dave arrived in town and had a self-described “excellent” dinner at the lodge, they stopped at our house for an hour or so.
We “howdied” and hugged, then started talking.
We almost never stopped to take a breath.
They came back for brunch the next day.
At times, we couldn’t talk fast enough between bites, with the discussion bouncing from one person to the other, one unfinished sentence to another, one memory to another so quickly it was like conversational pinball.
It was poignantly, hysterically funny.
We had so much catching up to do. New houses. Travels. Jobs. Kids and grandkids. New-found cousins. Photos shared in hard copy, on phones and iPads.
Barbara also updated me on mutual acquaintances from long ago, people with whom she’d stayed in touch, but I had not.
Each shared recollection triggered another and another, layering the memories and adding to the rich textures and colors of the conversation.
It was a stone soup of reminiscences.
Our brunch eggs got cold. We didn’t care.
Our rapid-fire chat stretched out so much longer than they’d planned that they had to hustle to make it to their appointment in Santa Barbara.
Before they left, Barbara quoted a lyrical old Irish proverb about old ships and friendships.
I can add to that for them and you (I’m part Irish, so it’s OK): May every long-awaited reunion be as delightful — and memorable — as that one was; and may we all share many more new, enjoyable experiences together, very soon.