Nearly 24 hours later and I am still floating off the high that comes from visiting with best old friends. These friends of ours, they used to live next door to us. This was in our newly married stage, pre-kids, as were they, and we had time to get together at each other’s house or a nearby restaurant for dinner, for drinks, for stories, for laughter. Oh, the laughter!
Years went by and they had their child first, and my husband and I used to spend time with them. We’d hold the baby and she’d fall asleep in our arms and we’d lay her down or our friends would take her home and put her in her crib and come back over with the baby monitor. We lived in townhouses and really, it was like the baby was just in the next room.
I had thoughts, when I became pregnant, that my friend and I would spend part of our days together, taking long walks, pushing the strollers, and she could share her mothering wisdom with me, like a mentor. Her baby had recently turned one after all. But it wasn’t to be. Just weeks before my son was born our friends announced they were moving out of state. A new job beckoned and they had to go to it. A few days after my son was born they were gone, and I was lost. I mourned the loss of my friends, and I lived the hell that is post partum depression.
Time marched on. Our friends had another baby. We moved out of our townhouse. We visited our friends one winter weekend, at their home in New Jersey. Their first baby was 3 ½ already, the second just learning to crawl. Our son had fun playing with the girls, we had fun visiting with our friends.
Time marched on again. Our friends moved to Connecticut, their oldest daughter started school. Here we are a few years later still, and their oldest is in 2nd grade, loves to read, and is studying tap dancing. My son is in Kindergarten and easily seduced by LEGOs. Their youngest, at 4 ½ attends preschool, has a head full of the thickest and curliest blonde hair there ever was, and may have stronger seductive powers than LEGOs. When we got together yesterday my son never left her side. We found them at one point, my son down on one knee, the hand of his outstretched arm clasped by his new found friend. She was standing, staring down at him, as if trying to decipher the sincerity of his proposal.
Needless to say, when I came home from work a few nights ago to an answering machine message from my friends announcing they were in town for a few days, and did we have any time to get together with them, I jumped at the chance. I called them back right away and we chipped away at dates and times until we found a spot of time in all of our busy lives that would work. A span of a few hours squeezed in before they had to head back home to work and school and everyday life.
It was the day after Thanksgiving, and rather than fight the crowds out hunting for deals on Black Friday, we got together at a holiday festival where the children shared popcorn, jumped around in a moon bounce, rode carousels, and watched miniature train displays. The festival was nice but crowded, the children easy to lose sight of as we walked and tried to catch up on time spent so far apart. We talked in spurts, interrupted by pleads of “Mom! Look!” and small hands tugging at our coats.
Afterwards we went to lunch and once fed, the children busied themselves at one end of the long table by writing on the backs of receipts and scraps of paper and combing the fur of stuffed animals with the plastic tines of a fork.
We the parents, the best old friends, finally got a chance to really talk, to catch each other up on our lives and our families. We shared stories and we shared laughter. Oh, the laughter!
This time as our friends drove away, headed back to Connecticut after their holiday visit here, I wasn’t sad. I was sated and still high from our time together, from the laughter, like a drug. It was, I remarked, as I hugged them goodbye, just like old times.