August 18, 2007
The painted ponies go up and down
I've had a wonderful summer: two incredible trips with my husband, camping with my family, a week at my favourite conference with some of my closest friends and some new friends as well, a week at camp with the extended family, evening walks and lunches with friends, plus days of quiet time at home with just kids and cats and books to keep me company. I've been to the river, to the mountains, to the ocean. I've taken one trip to the mountains in the northwest and one trip to the south.
But it's gone by fast, as summers do. The evenings are getting cool, the black-eyed susies are in bloom, and already I am thinking about fall semester. My daughter moved this week into the apartment near campus where she will be living for her senior year in college, Boy in Black moves back onto campus this week, and my new students will be arriving for orientation. I love summers, and I hate to see them end. Perhaps it's the climate I live in, but it seems that February, which is almost always a difficult month for me, is 93 days long. Whereas summer, which is filled with sunshine and swimming and hiking and everything I love, goes by way too fast. I swear, there are only three days between the Fourth of July and Labor Day.
One good thing about these last weeks of August is that my hometown friends are back from their vacations now. We've been scattered about all summer. It's fun to get together now and hear all the news. We can chat about family weddings, look at photographs, commiserate about frustrating moments with teenagers, laugh at cute things kids did at the beach, talk about plans for the winter, and tell each other that yeah, we look great, that we are aging really well.
One night this week, I met Kindergarten Friend at a local restaurant so that we could have a relaxed meal together. We met on the first day of kindergarten which means that she and I have been friends for 41 years. We know each other's parents and siblings: we used to sleep at each other's houses every Friday night all through elementary school. We would do things like empty a closet to make it into a fort, or string a whole room with yarn so that we could open doors and turn light switches by yanking on the yarn, or rollerskate while knitting on two ends of a long scarf. As adults, we're both the type who are willing to analyze ourselves, to step back and try to look at patterns in our lives, and it's great to do that with someone who knows your history almost as well as you do.
We talked non-stop while we ate pasta and tomato sauce and vegetables. Well, to be perfectly accurate, I'm the only one who ate any vegetables. Honestly, Kindergarten Friend's eating habits have not changed one bit since kindergarten. And despite all the personal growth for which we were congratulating ourselves, our friendship hasn't changed much either in 41 years. We never run out of stuff to say, we jump from serious to funny in about two seconds flat, and we were both delighted to play with the discarded plastic handles from the take-home containers that the waitress accidentally left on the table. The bunched up handles looked like some kind of mysterious face: we both saw it.
We'd told our families we'd be gone for a couple of hours. But of course, we both forgot about the time. It was pretty late when I suddenly noticed that all the tables around us in the restaurant were empty, the waitress had taken her tip and left, and someone was cleaning the carpet near us. It's true what they say, I guess. The older you get, the faster time goes by.
Posted by jo(e)