One of my dearest friends lives in Michigan.
We see each other in person about once every five years, talk over the phone once every two, and start a flurry of e-mailings every couple of months—but whenever we do make contact, it’s as if we’ve each just stepped away for a second before returning.
Our entire friendship has been like this. We met as teenagers and found that we were connected in a six-degrees-of-separation kind of way—we were friends of mutual friends or something, or maybe we only figured that out when we went to the same week-long summer camp? I do remember that we went to see Children of a Lesser God together before I went off to music camp for the rest of the summer before senior year . . . or did we go after I returned?
Regardless, we found each other and stuck despite the obstacles—mind you, this was 1987, before personal e-mail or cells. Telephones had cords, and I stretched the one from the kitchen to the limit during loooooong conversations, lying on the dining room floor with my legs stretched up the wall.
As I recall, we were nigh inseparable our senior year—I think we watched Labyrinth almost every weekend.* And then I went to an in-state college and she left for Ann Arbor and pretty much stayed there. We did visit each other, and met up when we were both back home. There were even a few coincidental meetings that proved our interconnectedness.
One of these was bizarre: The daughter of my cousin (by my grandmother’s second marriage) was having her bat mitzvah. We met my friend and her family coming up the walk to the synagogue. Turns out she’s related to my cousin’s ex-husband (through a similarly distant connection). We’d been cousins—of the several times removed by marriage and not really at all kind—the entire time (until the divorce).
How strange is that?
We were in each other’s weddings and are Fairy Godmothers to each other’s firstborn. I moved up here—a bit closer to her, I think, if Chicago and Lake Michigan weren’t in the way—and we visited as often as we could until jobs and kids anchored us, and our usual contact was reduced to belated birthday presents and winter holiday gifts that usually arrive around spring.
But today, I found a surprise package on my desk at work. This was inside:
The poem reads:
When her children ask her
how she did it all,
she will tell them, she didn’t
she learned to listen to her smiles
and let the rest get a little messy
Especially on Sundays – J.Beamer
My children will probably never accuse me of doing it all, or even trying to, but the philosophy is marvelous—as are the chickens. And I already have the messy down.
The gift is a surprise, but the just-because thoughtfulness isn’t.
And that it arrived after one &#$% of a weekend, just when I needed it, doesn’t surprise me at all.
Thanks, Jill—for everything.
*She liked David Bowie and I liked fairy tales. We both liked Jim Henson.