Thursday, April 01, 2010

Carly Simon knew it all along

when she sang, "These are the good old days."

Last weekend some dear friends of ours were in town. It wasn't for a happy occasion, unfortunately, but it was certainly a happy occasion to host them in our home. I hadn't seen Careless or her kids since the late fall of 2003. Six years is just too long.

In 1998 I met Careless at our local Early Childhood and Family Education (ECFE), which is part of Community Education and provides learning experiences for children birth to kindergarten and their parents. Parents and kids have time together in an age-appropriate classroom, then the parents typically split off and go into another room for time with a facilitator who helps them discuss issues common to parents of young children: nutrition, sleep issues, potty training, discipline, etc.

Those classes were a lifesaver for me. They provided a weekly outing that was fun for my kids and that gave me time with friends in the parent room. We vented, we laughed, and sometimes we cried. At the time, ALL of my friends were in those classes. People I would probably not have been friends with otherwise but because our kids were close in age we were drawn together.

The day I met Careless she introduced herself to the group, she was quiet but not shy. She seemed confident and she said she had recently moved to town from Seattle. She was dressed in her classic "Gap" style and she was articulate and poised. I immediately decided she was going to be my friend.

After class I approached her and suggested a play date for our kids at a local park. We went, the kids played near each other (they were both around 1) and we talked. And she became my friend. I have a penchant for making strong, long-lasting friendships. I choose people carefully and I am seldom wrong. I am so grateful for the friendship I have with her.

When we met I was already pregnant with my second child. We grew our families until we had 5 kids between us. We went to ECFE on Fridays. We called each other during the rest of the week. We dropped our kids off at each other's houses when we had errands to run or doctor's appointments or when they were driving us crazy and we just needed a break.

She saved my sanity a thousand times. We went through the 7th year of both of our marriages at the same time and discovered that, for us, the Seven Year Itch was a real thing. Joking about it with her helped make it not so horrible and I did not run screaming from my home looking for a different life, though I could have.

One of my favorite memories is our conversations where we would inventory the contents of our kitchens on the phone. She would say, "I have fruit and bread and a salad." I would dig through the freezer and come up with chicken breasts and some kind of dessert. In ten minutes we would decided where we were eating (whoever's house was cleaner) and would have a plan for our husbands. We'd call them and often they would just come straight from work to eat. Often the evening included a board game or some 80s music. We'd bathe the kids, get them in pajamas, sometimes borrowed from the hosts (I have pictures of Garrett in pink jammies), and the evening would end around 10 or when the kids started melting down.

Those nights were impromptu -- never planned, and no fancy food, just simple fare that young single-income couples could afford -- and they were SO fun.

To this day, we can pick up just where we left off -- no awkward silences, no trying to find common ground. Even the kids (who were 6,6,4,3 and 1) picked up and played Wii, talked and got along great despite the time apart at ages 12,12,11,9 and 8. Crazy to type those numbers.

I guess what all of this is about is that sometimes we don't see the amazing wonderful things or people in our lives for the amazing, wonderful things they are. Or at least we fail to see what magic we live with every day. That old saw, "Don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." Particularly when you talk about couple friendships -- that delicate balance of 4 people -- do they all get along? Do the men get along? Does one of the men think one of the women is an idiot? Does one of the women think one of the men is a jerk? -- we didn't have that. We all got along. I adore her husband, who is brilliant and funny and a wonderful dad, as much as I love her.

So I am exceedingly grateful for that friendship. For the opportunity to see them again. That the kids all got along (and even remembered each other a little bit). That, once upon a time in my marriage, we had that oh-so-rare experience of making friends who STAY friends regardless of the distance between us.

And, Careless, I am serious about that plan to retire near each other. I fully intend to listen to you brag about your grandkids and then brag about mine to you. And this time, I will truly relish every minute with you. I love you!


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  2. Awww. That was THE coolest blog entry ever. I can't tell you how much fun we had this weekend seeing you. It was such a whirlwind trip, with one thing after another, but as we were driving back I was thinking about exactly what you just said: we can pick up exactly where we left off. You are an amazing friend. I love that we can go forever without talking and see each other six years later and it seems like we've spoken 5 minutes before. I love you! We had such a wonderful time with you, and I have to admit that the thought crossed my mind that the kids may be "weird" with each other, but no. Garrett was awesome and had everyone talking and playing within minutes. I am still thinking about watching our two oldest play catch in the backyard and talking forever. It makes me smile! Love you!

  3. Thanks for your Blog!
    Roger / Florida / USA.

  4. How lucky you are to raise kids in today's world. I was still too close to my New England roots with its strict bedtimes (how I hated to be in bed and hear my cousins out playing.). Now you have playdates, classes. I watched my son and his wife take their kids everywhere with them. Did you get that garage cleared out?