Friends

           

The best thing about moving to Herndon was that I met some of the most amazing women I’ve ever known in my life.

They were all stay-at-home moms like me, and they all had children around the same ages as mine.

 “Who would ever live in a place called Herndon?”

We used to say as we drove to Dulles Airport and saw the Herndon exits off the toll road.

Before moving here, we asked a friend how she liked living here.

She said, “It’s the best kept secret in the Washington, D.C. area! It’s a friendly hometown tucked into this huge metropolitan area.  You’re part of the D.C. life, but you also have your own unique small town with its own, separate identity.”

She was right.

Moving to Herndon turned out as one of the best decisions we ever made.

We moved here because Doug’s office was here.

He enjoyed a 10-minute commute for a couple of months, and then, Fannie Mae transferred him back to DC.

But Herndon became home.

We love everything about it –

our neighborhood, the town, our church, the beautiful trails, closeness to Reston Town Center,

and, of course our friends.

The only problem is…

Our friends keep moving.

Over the years, we’ve cheered for each other’s kids as they’ve marched in the high school band, danced, cheered, played on the sports teams, performed in school plays and concerts.

They’ve been part of our everyday lives.

When our kids were little, one of the moms had the brilliant idea of starting a summer camp called Camp Blossom.  The moms met at the beginning of the summer, created a calendar of events, and took turns hosting summer activities.

 My girls made homemade pretzels, decorated their own camp t-shirts, went to Wolftrap’s Theater in the Woods for children, played water games, and even performed in an end-of-summer skit produced and written by one of the parents.

But, one by one, the families started moving.

My walking partner moved over a year ago.

You’d think I’d be used to the fact that she moved,

especially since I have a new partner right here in my neighborhood.

But I miss her.  We walked together every morning for years.

We had a series of walking routes

with names only meaningful to us,

many of them named after our friends who lived along our different paths.

Our favorites were – the “bagel café walk,” “the Kathy,” “the Candy,” “the Trina,” “the bread store,” and the “trail.”

We met at the high school between both of our houses at 7 a.m. every morning.

“Where shall we walk today?” was our first question.

“Oh, let’s do the bagel café walk.”

Sometimes we said, “let’s just explore.”

I loved the exploration walks the most.

We picked a direction and just walked, winding around corners, up new hills or on new trails, and talking.

One day we ended up in the neighboring town and had no idea how to trace our steps back home.

She set me straight on things like when I couldn’t decide whether to get a dog.

After days of listening to me debate the issue, she snapped, “Just get the dog already!”

Okay, okay.  I got the dog, and her point that I belabored the dog issue.

We raised our children together,

and took turns supporting each other

while our husbands served as bishops in our church.

We watched the seasons change, the sun come up,

and experienced the aftermath of a bad storm

as we stepped over fallen trees, and broken bridges

on the wooded trails behind our homes.

One of our favorite hobbies was to watch for convertibles,

and picture which one she would look best driving.

Sometimes we could imagine her looking good as the driver,

but dismissed it if I wouldn’t look good as the passenger.

We didn’t care about the car as much as we cared about how we would look in the car.

We saw deer on the trails, owls in the trees,

a beautiful egret in the stream, and a huge snake in her driveway.

I thought of her today when I saw a huge tortoise in the middle of the trail.

Yes, a tortoise.

She was the lucky recipient of my daily dream report.

She couldn’t stop giggling when I told her I had a nightmare

that I was the only Republican at a Democratic convention.

Her husband sent me a text one afternoon

with a picture of her sitting in her new white convertible BMW

with a note that said I’d look pretty good in the passenger seat.

 She’s only about 20 minutes away

but it could be an entirely different continent for as often as we see each other.

 I hate getting used to these kinds of changes in life.

 I move on and stay busy with the frenzied pace of life, but I miss my old friends,

the ones who represent different times and events of my life.

The Springville Friends

College freshman year gangs

Capitol Hill coworkers

Student newspaper staff

Old neighbors

 I often ache for them to hurry back and fill up the spot that emptied when they left.

It fascinates me how one friend is never like another.

Each one brings their own unique energy and gift into my life,

and even when our lives go in different directions,

and we are physically separated, the fundamental, intrinsic quality of the friendship vibrantly lives on.

Even when I don’t see my high school friends for years, when we get together, time collapses.

We immediately reconnect.

Our shared memories and longstanding love for each other reignite our friendship instantly.

 They, like all my friends, are part of me.

They give my life a richness that can’t be duplicated in any other friendships.

They represent me returning to myself somehow because they’ve known me since I was a child. Their friendships give my life a kind of smooth continuity that no other friends can offer.

Anais Nin said, “Each friend represents a world in us,

a world possibly not born until they arrive,

and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”

That’s such a beautiful expression of the power of friendship.

Each friendship conjures up memories of different eras of life that we’ve shared.

 I re-discovered this truth when I reconnected with a dear college friend, Jerry, this week on Facebook.

We haven’t seen each other in years, but instantly,

we shared news on everything we both love — music, travel, writing, theater, and mutual friends.

I felt a warm space in my heart open wide for him again

as I remembered our many years of experiences together.

Is there anything as wonderful as welcoming back an old friend?

There really is no finer gift than a true friend.

I’m so grateful for mine.

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