Most people have a few friendships that are based on different things. Some are for having fun, some share a common interest, and then there’s always that one required for long, long talks that last well into the night (with or without accompanying beverages.) These relationships may develop in childhood, at work, in the neighborhood, from traveling, from school, or even these days, online.
But the mother of all friendships is the one that’s forged in the furnace of life. I have an old friend like this, a woman with whom I share a level of bonding similar to that between comrades on the battlefield. We’ve been through a lot together.
We first met when I was seventeen and she was nineteen, working together in the kitchen of what, in those days, was essentially a spiritual commune. We wound up attending the same college, settling in the same small community, making similar bad first marriages, and bearing babies which we then helped each other nurse, care for, and even once…after an explosion of domestic violence…hide through the bad divorces that followed.
Afterwards, we were merry divorcees together for a couple of years, sharing in the wild and uninhibited adventures that a sudden release from oppression often unleashes. We ran laughing and naked together through woods and creeks, danced (also naked, it was a theme) around bonfires under moons, had lots of sleepovers drinking smuggled moonshine on late nights around the lake, and shared endless stories about the amazing lessons in kindness, respect, new ideas, repeating old mistakes, letting go, saying no (and saying yes, Yes, for godsakes YES!!!) we were learning from dating a variety of other men.
The stories from this period are nothing if not fun to tell.
Eventually, way down deep, beneath the many layers of wounding and rebelling, adventures and healing, we both discovered our inner loyal, monogamous selves. We each found a trusted partner…really, really good men…remarried and, even though we’ve mostly lived apart for the last twenty years, have continued sharing and supporting each other through the wild adventures of our offspring who (seem to have inherited the fearless/high risk/high mistakes gene and) have amazing stories of their own to tell now.
I count this friendship, along with motherhood and a happy marriage, as one of the greatest gifts of my life. I don’t how I got so lucky.
It’s long been the dream of this friend and I to wind up living together and seated in twin rocking chairs on a front porch somewhere in our old age. All the other details are sketchy (those wonderful husbands dead and kids traipsing across Argentina perhaps?) but every once in a while something pops up to help fill in the gap.
She just sent me this joke about three old ladies in a retirement home and, judging from the history the two of us share, something along these lines seems likely:
Three ladies were sitting in their retirement home reminiscing.
The first lady recalled shopping at the grocers and demonstrated with her hands, the length and thickness of a cucumber she could have once bought for a penny.
The second lady nodded, adding that onions used to be much bigger and cheaper also, and demonstrated the size of two big onions she once bought for a penny a piece.
The third lady said, “I can’t hear a word you two are saying, but I remember the man you’re talking about.”
Oh honey, do I ever. Love you always, dear.
copyright Dia Osborn 2011