To an Old Friend

I wonder if you feel like I do tonight. We spent the day together, reuniting after a long separation filled with hurt and anger, twin feelings that can do so much damage for so long. It was a nice day; the weather smiled on us, the park smiled on us, the walking together was good, the eating together was lovely. It was a pleasant day, no more, I thought. Because it’s hard to hold the past in your hands, even when you reminisce and laugh over memories that go back 70 years. As the day ended, we hugged and for a moment we didn’t want to let go. You said words like: “We have to be in each other lives … we are family…” but the words weren’t what mattered. For quite a while, my heart hasn’t wanted to open very wide; even today I kept a close watch on it. But when something gets through it’s for a reason, and here you are, despite the fact that we’re full of wrinkles and stories about our health and doctors and so on, despite all that, we could easily have been at camp in 1950. Was it your voice, its inflections unchanged through the years?  Is it the familiar way you say things?  The years disappeared!  But what does that really mean? Here’s what I think: when you’re young and you give yourself to a day with a friend, everything is a first. The friend becomes the rough path, the chocolate soda, the feel of a late afternoon. The friend becomes her freckles, her yoyo, the songs you sing together. Something so exciting goes into every part of your body and spirit, because when you’re young you haven’t learned how to hold back. So it’s giving of self without reservation, and what you’ve given that way you can never take back. The millions of times my cells have turned over — memories that can hardly make their way through all that are right here tonight. We’re in your kitchen baking cookies, we’re at camp walking with our arms around each other’s waists, fingers hooked in the belt rings of each other’s jeans. I hear our shoes on the porch of the Main House. I see the slick raincoats and the tack board, the darkened ping-pong table, the big tree with the swing. I see the baseball field to the left, the infirmary with the view of the lake through its windows. I see the game room with the piano against the wall. I see the jewelry bunk and I smell the oil and hear the cutting sound of the saw as we shaped the silver into scotty dogs and flowers. I see Frisky the goat under the tree and beyond her, the smells are rising on the path to the lake. I see the water as it flashes in diamonds through the trees. I can feel the air cooling as we stand in the candy line after dinner and hear the laughter of counselors grabbing a last few minutes on the tennis courts. I remember the love comics we read during rest hour and the hearts with initials we painted on the tent walls. And you and I were there, Jo, and so was Elena, and so were Liz, Evie, Nora and Gittle, Walter, Connie, Earl, Kathy and Fran, Steph, Hubby, Jesse and Vic. You are right. We fill a space in each other’s hearts that no one else ever possibly can, and I welcome the joy and the pain that comes with our embrace.



One thought on “To an Old Friend

  1. Oh, my, Ellen, this post is beautiful and so nice to read. I felt like I was a long lost friend of yours, reminiscing right there with you! So glad you had the opportunity to reconnect with your friend and memories! xx


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