I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there's a pair of us?
Don't tell! they'd advertise – you know!
How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one's name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog! -Emily Dickinson
Friday, 30 December 2011
THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD LEADS ME BACK...
It seems, in your twenties, that life stretches out long and
wide ahead of you and mortality is something that happens to other people. You
imagine your circle of friends will always expand. You cannot know how many
friends will drift away; how many connections will be lost.
But if you are very lucky, there are a handful of people who
are still with you at the other end of life. Friendship is picked up as if you’d
seen each other yesterday no matter how far away you travel in distance or
We were in our twenties in these pictures. All of us were
married and Heather & Wendy’s children were young. I have a lot of memories of their kids.
Dave, Wendy’s younger son would only eat Zoodles and Laura
Secord’s Chocolate Pudding, except when at his daycare lady’s house. There, he’d
tow the line. When I lived in Toronto,
a Tim Horton’s near Wendy’s house became her refuge and she wrote me letters
from there. A brief escape from job, housework and mothering duties.
In one letter, she described coming home exhausted and
plunking into an armchair with a good book, and going quietly on strike. After
a long while, her husband Bill (and the boys) got the idea that Mom was not
cooking and Bill went for takeout. Good guy that he is, he also volunteered to
put Dave to bed – and in the process, handed Dave to Wendy for just a moment while
he grabbed a diaper. The very moment that Dave decided his bowels needed to
move. “Remember ‘Leave it to Beaver,’ Wendy said, ‘it was nothing like that.”
And there was the time Wendy and Dave were in the car and “I
Want to Know What Love is” came on the radio. Dave was very young. He turned to Wendy in
disbelief and said, “Imagine not
knowing what love is!”
Dave is a crusty, quick-witted young man these days - but that same heart is still firmly embedded in him.
I lived with Heather on Kline Street and was left in charge of
baby Phil (Heather’s first break from the baby). I walked him ‘round and ‘round
under a ceiling light because it was the only thing fascinating enough to stop
him crying. Until I discovered that he liked blueberry yogurt. I was pretty
smug about my inventive baby tending until the next day, when he began to
eliminate the blueberries at an alarming rate and Heather pointed out to me
that you just don’t feed blueberries to a baby who is just starting to eat soft
But he lived. Today he's a police officer - and runs his own Karate school.
I also remember sewing a Victorian nightgown for Heather’s
daughter, Tracey, who was so excited she put it on and ran out into the street
at high noon to show her friends. She was out the door so fast, we didn't even realize she was gone.
Another time, she was misbehaving
and sent to her room – and stomped up the stairs calling out in a long-suffering voice, “I wish I had a kind mother,” while Heather & I sat
in the kitchen cracking up over her theatrics.
Tracey grew up to have a singing voice that could break your heart. And she's still theatrical, funny and lightening quick with a one-liner.
There are other stories I could tell you. Blurry memories of
a lot of parties. This was the early
70s. Marriages came together and fell apart. There were heartbreaks, financial
disasters, losses and gains of every kind. There were bottles of gin and hot
knives and the kinds of scrapes you get into that make a great story a long time
after you get out of them. There were
men behaving well – and men behaving badly. It didn’t take long to figure out
that when push came to shove – it was our women friends who would show up and
help stick us back together again.
And here it is – 40 years, give or take, since we were the
girls in those pictures. After hundreds of friends have come and gone, after
marriages have broken, these are the people who are right next to me, walking the far end of the
trail. Still showing up to help stick the pieces back together again.