Monday, December 5, 2011

Roots and Wings

As we make our way through this maze called life, we rely on two things endowed to us during our childhood:  roots and wings.  Our roots included family, places we grew up, friends we had when we were young.  Our wings enabled us to grow and develop and evolve into the people we are today.

Kids in my day didn't care where a friend lived or the socioeconomic place the parents held in the community.  What mattered was your friend loved to play Monopoly until 3:00 a.m., and was the only one who understood why reading The Count of Monte Cristo under the covers at night, with a flashlight, was more important than sleeping.

I had a special friend like that in junior high, and spent much time at her house which was bigger than mine and more fun.  One day we devoted hours writing a screen play for "The King and I" which we performed for her mother, who was ill and spent much time resting in her bed.  The memory of that performance is so clear in my mind.  Her mom applauded our efforts and we basked in that momentary glow of approval.

The summer before high school we drifted apart, and after our freshman year she went away to private school while I stayed behind and slogged along with everyone else.  The years went by and we lost touch as so often happens when you're kids.

If you've ever had a special friend like this from years ago, and wish you could find and re-connect with each other, read more of the story.

The other day, fifty-two years later, we met at Sea-tac Airport.  She and her husband flew in from New Mexico (to visit family); I took the airport shuttle from home (100 miles north).  We met in the Southwest baggage area, recognized each other instantly, hugged and laughed, then cabbed to the "13 Coins" Restaurant.  We settled into a lovely booth with high-backed leather seats, giving us the privacy necessary to cram fifty-two years' worth of questions and stories into a mere five hours.

Her husband stayed with us, was a delightful addition to our reunion celebration, and picked up the tab for the food and drink that so delightfully complemented our visit.

It was one of the best afternoons I've ever spent, even if it was far too short for a meeting of such special significance.  We both admitted we could have spent days together trying to ask and answer and listen and laugh and remember and reminisce.  We each brought pictures to share:  family members, former classmates, a boy we both liked in high school.

On the short ride back to the airport (so I could catch the shuttle home), our driver made a U turn, and we collectively caught our breath at the vision of Mt. Rainier, in all her splendor, seemingly in the middle of the road ahead.  Mt. Rainier is a stunning sight at that distance, especially on a crisp, clear fall day.  It was the absolute perfect finishing touch to such a splendid day, fifty-two years in the making.
My friend and her husband whisked off with family while I settled into my seat on the bus that took me home, smiling for most of the two-hour trip, replaying it all in my mind, trying to remember every detail.  How beautiful she was, how happy she looked, how easy it was to slip back into the way we were together half a century ago; yet our time together was much richer than when we were girls.

Back then we were little chunks of clay beginning to take on the forms we would grow into over the years.  Now we are the almost-finished pieces that have been shaped and fired, and a bit chipped around the edges by the experiences that forged us into the women we are today.

She has traveled to all seven continents and visited all fifty states; I don't even have a passport.

Her mind is filled with stories about trips and places and things she's seen; mine is filled with ideas for stories I want to write.  She makes her own cannelloni from scratch and has tasted delicacies from all over the world; I make organic salads each night for nine rabbits and have written a cookbook.

Dining with Dorothy
by Dorothy Haase

The light over our table in that private booth, an elaborate square made of many long strings of beads, prompted her to describe their recent visit to the Hall of Remembrance and Sorrow in a museum in Moscow.  She told of a room that was dimly lit, where strings of glass beads hung from the ceiling, symbolizing tears shed for the 19 million Russian people who died in World War II.  It was a somber moment.  So many people lost; I had no idea.

Just then our handsome, attentive waiter brought another round of Nutty Irishmen Coffees for us all.  We savored the sweetness of Frangelico and Bailey's Irish Cream, sipping on straws stuck into mounds of whipped cream topping each steaming mug of coffee.

A granddaughter, with her son in tow, showed up to ferry us back to reality from the private booth that hosted our magical time together.

When we parted, we held onto each other, reluctant to let go, and promising we would find a way to see each other again one day.  Hopefully for a longer visit, where there would be much more time to spend on all the unfinished questions and incomplete answers.  Time to relax and not be hurried; to share in more depth what we've each done and felt and learned over those fifty years we spent apart.

She graciously invited me to visit her for two weeks in the spring, when she would "sandwich me" into her busy life filled with friends and family and activities and commitments.

"You can stay in the chicken room," she offered, explaining their guest room upstairs has been so named by the neighbor across the street because it apparently looks like a chicken.  How can I possibly resist such an invitation?

My hosts promised endless days of sunshine and night skies filled with stars; homemade cannelloni that I get to help make; and private time for me, since I'm used to a far less busy, more quiet life.

On the bus ride home, thoughts of the value of our roots and our wings filled my mind.  One to anchor us to a place filled with sweet memories of innocence. The other to set us free to fly away and become the people we are today.  For me to re-connect with someone so special from those days long ago was a most valuable gift.  And the best part was that I loved her more now than I had so long ago, when it was my hotel on that coveted blue property where she was instructed to "Take a walk on the Boardwalk."

10 comments:

  1. how lovely to catch up with your friend after so long!

    I love the drawing of the bunnies having dinner...

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  2. Oh this is such a wonderful story! I can't imagine not seeing each other for so long. My best friend and I met when we were 12. We talk every Sunday and I talk her ear off. I can't imagine what I would do if it had been 52 years! hee,hee,hee.
    Oh and by the way, how might one go about getting a copy of your cookbook?

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  3. A wonderful experience and one to hold in your heart for years. Thanks for sharing it.

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  4. Thank you for the comments; they are much appreciated. It was truly a special day, and hopefully the first of many more. "Dining with Dorothy" needs to be re-written, and I have no copies of the older version left. When it is again available, you bunny folk will be the first to know. Although ... it's a cookbook for people (not rabbits) ... but an old friend arranged for someone to do the artwork for the cover, and of course it's beyond perfect.

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  5. I really enjoyed this; thank you.

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  6. I love this piece - thank you! I have emailed the link to a very special friend from my own childhood, who's currently half-way around the world on a volunteer assignment in Bangladesh. Thankfully, we didn't have to wait 52 years to reconnect, although our get-togethers over the years have been all too infrequent.

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  7. Loved every word you wrote. It was beautifully written and your emotions were so raw and real. It made me cry. Not many of us have had friendships that have lasted a lifetime. For those of us who haven't, thank you for taking us on your journey.

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  8. I am so touched at the comments on this post. And I know how challenging it was for some of you to insist on commenting in spite of how difficult it can be on Google Blogger. Thank you! They are all much appreciated.

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  9. Nice work - Go visit her. I'll bet she and I are friends too! You will love the New Mexico nights - stars forever and the milky way will guide you home in the darkest of nights.

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  10. After re-reading a couple of initials come to mind - A. R.?

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