Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Yet knowing how way leads on to way..."

My mother told me I probably wouldn't make any new friends after college. She said that living on campus is conducive to meeting people, and that situations like that wouldn't come up much when college was over.

My mother has been right about almost everything, but I'm happy to say, she was wrong about that. I have been blissfully making friends ever since--in graduate school (so much like college, without the campus living), jobs I've had (lots of them) groups I've joined, Nia training, Jarrah's preschool, the theater, and the list goes on. Some of the people who are dearest to me, I've met in the last 10 years.

But my mother was right in a way. The friends I made in college will always be close to my heart, even if I don't talk to them every day, or even every year. Knowing they are there makes the world better, and when we get together, it's like no time has passed at all.

This past week, I reconnected with my friend Joe on Facebook. I'd been searching for him for a couple of years, but he was the one who finally found me. Seeing his little message--"Hi Sam! Call me! xoxoxo, Joe"--was enough to bring tears to my eyes. I have missed him so. I don't think we've been in touch since 1993, but he's never been far from my thoughts.

Joe and I met in England, where we were both studying Junior Year Abroad. He was from New York; me from California. We bonded instantly, because Joe is a tall, blond, bubbly glass of champagne in the form of a man, and who wouldn't like that? We gossiped and drank G&Ts at the pub, shopped on Bond St., managed to cook delectable meals on the dormitory hot plate. We were usually with our friend, Beth, so it was no surprise when those two ended up roommates after we all graduated. And--happy days!--we all ended up in Boston.

Their basement flat on Marlborough St. was my second home. A bracing walk through the Back Bay got me there in 20 minutes, where it was always warm and something was bubbling on the stove. I was living with Smith friends, and they all loved Joe, too. What wasn't to love? The guy had a huge heart, was always in a good mood, and was funny as hell. Whenever I had one of those days, Joe was there with a cocktail and a bitchy story to cheer me right up.

He and I were a bit slower than our Boston friends to get gainfully employed. So there was a swatch of time when we'd hang out during business hours to keep each other entertained. We didn't have any money, so our shopping was of the window variety, as well as our dreams of High Tea at the Ritz, new clothes from the boutiques on Newbury St., theater tickets in Charles Square. We settled for long walks in our thrift-store overcoats through the fall beauty of the Public Gardens, and the late afternoon glint off the gold dome of the Statehouse.

One afternoon we splurged on a shared order of chocolate crepes at The Magic Pan (known affectionately as The Tragic Pan) and then laughed ourselves silly at what was placed before us: a bowl of hot chocolate and a plate of toasted crepe "nachos" for dipping. It was awful, and we made jokes about the awfulness until I couldn't breathe.

When we finally connected on the phone last week, Joe reminded me of the nacho crepes right away. "Can you believe we paid for that, and didn't say anything?" Yes, I can. We were too busy laughing to complain. I love that we both have fond memories of that day--I told Joe I wrote a poem about it for my MFA thesis, even. I said I'd send it to him. I'm so happy we're back in touch.

With Thanksgiving upon us, I'm thinking about friends, old and new. How grateful I am to have both. And about the expansive blessing--really, what else can anyone hope for in this life?--of knowing friends are there, year after year, a part of our history, and with any luck, a part of our future, too. And this is truly magic--not tragic--indeed.


ewr2san said...

Great Blog post Sam. Cheers to friends, new, old, and in-between!

Samantha said...

Thank you, Mark! You are awesome! :)

Caroline said...

Definitely a great post. You have me fondly reminiscing about all the Joes I've known, wishing I'd kept in touch more than just seeing each other's shadows and footprints on Facebook.

Mrs. Chapman's 2nd Grade Class said...

Oh how I love this post! I've reconnected with so many friends because of facebook and am so happy I have. I am thankful for friends too!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Joan said...

Old friends are wonderful. My 'oldest' friend -- she would prefer I said my friendship of the longest duration -- goes back to when we were both 13. But my experience has been that you make the most new friends (and keep them) when your child starts school. So it is likely that you will make a lot of new friends yet.

Stephanie said...

What a lovely toast to friendship. Cheers!

Laural Out Loud said...

My mom told me the same thing, and while it's true that I share a special bond with the friends I made in college, I'm slowly been collecting more ever since, of all different kinds of people. It's been wonderful.

Mary said...

Love your post!

So lucky to be your friend!



Rachel said...

Great post! I too have meet a ton of friends after college and I adore them all. Of course, there is nothing like that blast from the past. Have a happy Thanksgiving!