Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My Old Friend

I had dinner recently with a very dear and long-time friend. We’re talking a decades-long friendship here. And even though she was married with two children and I was fresh out of Ohio State when we first met at Ross Labs, we both considered ourselves young and “happenin’.”

Incidentally, if you live in the central Ohio area, you’ll recognize that it was indeed a very long time ago seeing as how the place hasn’t been called “Ross Labs” in years. 

Plus, no one has used the term happenin’ to refer to themselves as being young and with it in, well, forever.  So clearly I’m dating myself.

Anyway. Karen and I used to be the unofficial party planners in our department at work and would find any and every excuse to gather a gang of coworkers together and go out.  Dancing was frequently involved, particularly if I held the decision-making reins.  We’re talkin’ back in the 80s – the big hair, lots of makeup, pointy-toed pumps and linebacker-worthy padded shoulder days. 

And, yes, I dare say…the good ol’ days.

Karen and I have maintained our friendship through many job changes over the years (both) and city moves (me). Through one divorce (hers) and many boyfriend break-ups (mine).  I helped her with preparations for her second wedding and she returned the favor much more recently and helped me with my first.   

So ours has been a friendship that has weathered the test of time and it’s one I cherish. There aren’t too many secrets we keep from one another, although we do seem to have lost touch a bit in recent years. We don’t call one another as often anymore, although I’m not sure we ever really did communicate much that way. But we do keep up through emails.

Once we realize it has been far too many months since our last get-together, we pin down a date and meet. This time it was at her house. I hadn’t seen their new kitchen remodel (started in 2014), or that they only have one Italian Greyhound these days and not two since they lost sweet Lulu last fall.

So we spent over three hours talking and laughing and catching up with one another. Heck, I talked so much I was surprised I didn‘t lose my voice.

But toward the end of our conversation we realized that a significant portion of our chat-fest was spent talking about health issues. Family health issues, our own health issues. 

We talked symptoms. We talked medications. We talked doctor visits. We talked supplements and vitamins and prescriptions. Oh my!

Yikes. When did we stop being The Young and the Restless and instead we turned into On Golden Pond

When did we become so freakin’ old??

I guess Father Time is funny like that.  Or sadistic. Yeah, I think I’ll go with the latter. Because instead of talking about the latest Gucci handbags or the newest movie releases, we suddenly found ourselves talking more about aging, elderly parent concerns and our own health issues.

Not once did we talk about books we’re reading, or the cute shoes she had on, or the gel nail polish I was wearing that doesn’t have to be cured with a light and comes off with regular nail polish remover. You know – “girl stuff.” 

On the other hand, there is something comforting in being able to talk so intimately with someone you’ve known a long time and whom you have trusted from the get-go. You know she won’t judge; she knows you won’t either. And it’s a relief to know you’re not the only one going through whatever it is you’re going through.

So I guess I need to acknowledge that a friendship that has managed to persevere through several decades is going to be a different one than when it first started.

But, like a cherished heirloom becomes more valuable once it’s considered an antique, so too does a cherished friendship like ours.

And, yes, I used the term “old friend” in the title on purpose. We finished our conversation feeling a bit old. But we promised ourselves that the next time we get together, we are going to table the health talk. 

So I’m thinking maybe we shouldn’t even ask each other the question, “How are you?” Yeah, that might be a good start.  Instead, I’m going to make a point of commenting on her cute shoes. 

And the word “orthopedic” will not be mentioned in that query.

Just kidding. She doesn’t wear orthopedic shoes. But she also doesn’t wear the sky high pointy-toed pumps anymore, either!

My orthopedic shoes, on the other hand… Oh, never mind. Didn’t I say we were tabling the health talk?!

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