When I tell stories about childhood, I often mention Outdoor Girl. Throughout my school years, we had all kinds of adventures together, from horseback riding in a gravel pit to swimming in a pond on an eighth grade retreat to winter camping in the mountains. But I don’t see her often as an adult because she lives in The Middle of Nowhere, which is located somewhere in the south. She and her husband are farmers who raise cattle and dogs, and they don’t get away from the farm much. She comes back to Snowstorm Region sometimes to see her family, but often it’s the same week that my husband and I are off on our family vacation.
When she called Thursday night to say she was in town, we tried to figure out when we’d seen each other last. I’ve got a photo of her oldest son sitting with Boy in Black on her mother’s deck, their chubby toddler legs hanging over the edge. Both boys are now over six feet tall. So yeah, it’s been awhile.
But when I walked into her parents’ house last night, I was surprised by how things didn’t seem different at all. Her hair is white now instead of dark, but otherwise, she looks the same. Her parents – both warm, gracious people – still seem like family to me. Outdoor Girl and I jumped immediately into conversation about our lives, our kids, our work. I ended up staying for dinner – just like I used to when I was a teenager – and hanging out with the family. Thirty years have passed since Outdoor Girl and I graduated from high school – and we’ve been apart for all that time – but we had no trouble just picking up the conversation as if we were still riding the school bus home together.