Last week, I took a walk in the fog on my blog. To be truthful, I do enjoy my walk, but I really didn’t like my post. It had good descriptive qualities, but it lacked honesty. I appreciated the positive feedback I received, but I felt unsettled.
Then, I received an e-mail from Sarah, one of my oldest friends, (not age, mind you, but length of friendship.) “Wow,” she wrote, “I want to go for a long walk on the beach and talk to the birds…and you, of course.” Boom! Nothing like an old, true friend bringing me down to earth. I laughed so hard I cried.
You see, I wrote about the birds and the names of the avenues and the surfers out of obligation. Don’t get me wrong. These are all things worth noticing. I know this because I’ve read many books on writing that tell me I should notice everything and be specific as possible. Therefore, I included an explanation and some thoughts on the endangered snowy plover.
But how much do I really think about the snowy plover on my walk? When I have to meet my self-imposed blogging deadline, the snowy plover takes on a sense of urgency. Otherwise, I barely notice any birds other than to duck and cover when they fly by in packs.
Most of the time, I walk with my friend Janet who I’ve known since the third grade and doesn’t want to be mentioned in my blog. Suffice to say, we yack the entire four miles and by the time we’re done, I’ve barely noticed that time has elapsed let alone the snowy plover and the surfers.
This brings me back to Sarah. Sarah and I were born around the same time and shared space in the nursery at St. Mary’s Hospital. Although our parents knew each other, we did not become acquainted until we were 13. We’re almost 52 so we’ve known each other well for almost 40 years.
I don’t get to see Sarah as often as I’d like as she lives two hours away. It doesn’t matter. When I see her, we pick up where we left off and she dishes me in a way that only someone who has known me for 40 years can do, ribbing me in her e-mail about a previous walk we shared on the Santa Cruz beach where I donned a blue terrycloth jogging suit that I accessorized with penny loafers and an Italian satchel draped across my body. Of course, I give it right back to her, but her wit often trumps mine.
I feel very lucky to have a good number of old friends. Although I’ve grown up in a large city, I’ve lived in a small community where so many of my schoolmates still reside. I went to college across the Bay and made new friends who, because of my advanced age, are my old friends now. And I treasure them.
Old friends sparkle like diamonds. They light up the room in a party and I am immediately drawn to them. My old friends absolutely judge me and tell me what they think to my face. We celebrate milestones together because we’re roughly the same age. I don’t have to explain that I am the youngest of six children; they know the names of my brothers and sisters, my parents, my late aunt Margie, my husband and my children. They know that I don’t like vegetables and that a long time ago, I drank like a fish. They get my humor and I relish theirs.
As I said before, I feel very lucky. I have new friends, too, folks that I have known only 15 or 20 years and or maybe just 15 or 20 months. I love them dearly, but they really only know the “adult” Nancy and sometimes, I just want to go back to that time when I was young and didn’t have a care in the world.
When my mother turned 70, my sister threw my mom a birthday party and invited all of her old girlfriends. I remember my mom being asked how she felt now that she had reached 70 years of age. She answered, “I feel like I just turned 13.”
Why wouldn’t she? She was celebrating her birthday with her old friends.