Deepening Friendship

I’ve been aware that as we age, we become more and more grateful for the friends we made when we were young/er who have stuck with us through the years. My first college roommate and I are still in close touch, and I find our relationship dearer each time we connect. Friends I made before Jonah was born, and who knew him as an infant, then a toddler seem precious to me now.

Until recently, my friends from childhood and I had drifted apart, first when I moved to a new community at the end of junior high school, and the rest, once I’d graduated from college. But a barely pre-pandemic Brownie Troupe Reunion and a Zoom chat with a close high school friend have filled that void and helped me realize the force and power of friendship throughout my life.

The plot leading up to our Brownie Troup reunion is delightful, but I’ve already written about that weekend. What matters is not only that we were all thrilled to see each other and spent two perfect days together, but that the reunion took place the weekend just before the pandemic intruded into our lives and travel stopped. When we convened in Philadelphia, we were already under the shadow of Covid 19, and sensing what might be coming our way, intensified our pleasure at rediscovering each other. Then once the pandemic hit us all full force, we couldn’t stop marveling that we had managed to reunite just before everybody was required to isolate and shelter in place. And I know that for me, this made the miracle of rediscovering each other that much sweeter. Whenever I think back to that weekend, I marvel that so much exquisite togetherness took place just in the nick of time.

I’d reconnected with a very close friend from high school several times over the years, most recently at our 50th high school reunion. Each time, we were delighted to see each other, and promised to keep in touch. But somehow, we never quite kept our promises, aside from a note via email on each of our birthday. Then this year, when I received my birthday greetings from my friend, I felt a strong desire to see her. This might be a result of the age I recently turned. Or the pandemic. Most likely both. So we arranged a Zoom reunion.

I would have happily prolonged the hour I spent sitting right in front of a 13-inch screen with my friend’s face beaming at me, talking and laughing together. The conversation began in the usual way by catching up on each other’s life: my friend writes children’s books as well as coaches and teaches writers in their craft, and she told me about her travails as a “luddite” learning to work with groups on Zoom. We talked at length about our sons and grandsons. And we reminisced a bit.

But after a while the reunion shifted to embrace two old friends spending time together, talking about everything from our reactions to the pandemic and the current state of American politics to moments in our childhood and our plans for the coming week. Just two long-term friends who hadn’t missed a beat getting together for lunch and enjoying each other’s company.

Would this have happened without the pandemic? I cannot say for certain. But I doubt it.

Berkeley Garage Wall

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