Thursday, September 03, 2009

Following the Path

Six years ago I received a gift at my 20th high school reunion.
Not everyone received a gift that night. I'm sure that some did while others did not. I was one of the lucky ones.
I had just ordered drinks for my wife and I when a woman I knew a lifetime ago walked up next to me. We reintroduced ourselves and made small talk while the bartender made our drinks. My friend quickly caught me up on the last 15+ years of her life while I listened, amazed.
She had lived more in fifteen years than I had my whole life. She had her ups and downs but she was still standing in the ring, swinging and jabbing at whatever came her way. I complimented her on her appearance. She was always beautiful in high school and time had done nothing to diminish her beauty. There was still the same fire in her eye, depth to her laugh and sincerity of spirit. The years may have kicked her around a bit but, in the end, she was the same woman I knew so long ago.
It was a death that kept us together.
A fellow classmate died not long after our reunion. Thanks to the reunion committee, she was able to pass this information along to many at once. I knew she was close with our now-departed classmate. I sent her an e-mail of condolence, expressing my sympathy at her loss. And we began to talk. And talk. And talk.
Soon we were hip-deep in e-mail conversation.
We realized we shared much more in common then we ever had as kids. Back then I was a "skinny little nerd boy" (her words) and she was a "burnout" (not really, but she wasn't a prep, princess or jock so that's all that was left). Now we were adults, and our friendship once forged in the fires of high school now was now fully-formed with a lifetime behind us. We had our shared experiences even as we realized our paths had diverged somewhere along the way. Sure enough, our paths now rejoined further on along the bend. Now, we both enjoyed writing, wine and good books. We laughed at the same jokes and watched the same movies. We were comfortable with who and what we are. I could see the shadow of the friend I left behind in high school even as I marveled at the woman who was becoming my friend today.
Life intervened and she became our neighbor, living the next street over from the house we had recently sold in JP. We enjoyed drinks at James's Gate and cocktails at Costellos. We walked the streets for First Thursday and the paths of Forest Hills Cemetery for the Lantern Festival. We founded our 2nd book club together and we shared meals in each others home. We laughed when it was right to do so and we listened to each other when it was needed.
In short, she became my true friend.
I'm saying good bye to my old friend this weekend.
My friend has finally found what she has always looked for - even when she didn't know she was looking for it. She is following her heart - and her love - to Arizona. She has put her faith in the greatest gift she has - herself.
Selfishly, I wish she had found what she was looking for here and not there. Nevertheless, she has found it and I am truly, sincerely happy for her. While I am wishing her well, I realize that I will miss her presence at book club, around the dinner table, at the Gate and in my day-to-day life. Thankfully we will stay in touch with e-mail, cell phones and Facebook. She will never truly be gone yet she will always be a bit too far away.
Goodbye, dear friend. Thank you for finding your way back into my life.
Our paths have diverged once more.
Yet I know that we will meet again, just a little further on down the road.

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be." - Douglas Adams


Blogger Fox In Detox said...

Thank you my friend, for such a beautuiful tribute. I know exactly how you feel, because I feel it too. You will not be forgotten, and we will remain in door is always do me a that favor and pay a visit. You guys will LOVE Sedona.

3:32 PM, September 04, 2009  
Blogger Andy said...

The tribute is only as beautiful as the woman that it is about.
I will be glad to come and visit you anytime.
Be safe, be well and (most importantly) be happy, dear friend.

3:46 PM, September 04, 2009  
Blogger 1st Lady said...

You two have something special, sniff. Reminds me a little of my primary school friend, I see him like a brother, we reunited last year after we hadn't seen each other since we were both 12 years old, and here he'll be visiting me again, spending this weekend with my partner and I. True friendships are wonderful.

4:45 PM, September 09, 2009  

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