My oldest friends

On the plane back from Seattle earlier this summer, I read THE ONE THAT I WANT by Allison Winn Scotch (it’s wonderful, go order it, I’ll wait. . . ). There’s a line in the book where the main character talks about how she and her friends from high school “raised each other.” I read that line and spent the next twenty minutes fighting back tears, because it was such a perfect way to talk about that kind of friendship, and it reminded me of my friends from high school.
Last weekend, I had a reading in Poughkeepsie at the Maple Grove Restoration. I drove down on Saturday, and went to the Dutchess County Fair with 2 out of 3 of the Robs, and K. We met up with a friend we hadn’t seen in seventeen years (when did we get so old that this is even possible?) and walked around looking at pigs and prize chickens, eating maple sugar cotton candy, and catching up. And even though we were still an hour away from where we grew up, it was like being home in all the good ways and none of the bad. It was hard to leave when it was over.
The reading on Sunday was wonderful. Daphne Uviller and Amitava Kumar read too. It was great to have the opportunity to hear other writers talk about their process – what sparks an idea, why they can’t let it go. And I got to look up from reading and see so many familiar faces (including one who lives in Oklahoma and surprised us all!).
After the reading, we went out to dinner. We were talking and laughing and telling old jokes, and I had a moment where I looked at all of them and thought, these are the people who raised me. They are my oldest friends. I take after them. I grew up with them. I got my strange sense of humor from Tom and the Robs and the other guys in our group. I laugh with reckless abandon, because my friend S always has and it’s beautiful. I’ve learned so many things about compassion from K.
They’ve known me as long as I’ve known myself. I fell on my face in front of them, time and time again — the way you do when you’re growing up — and they love me anyway, or maybe even because of it. We went through the growing pains and the bad hair and the bad clothes and the bad teachers and the broken hearts together. And for the most part, if you don’t count things like the time one of the Robs threw me in the dumpster behind the school (because I don’t, you know, not really. . . or at least not very much), we were pretty kind and careful with each other. I am so thankful that I got to grow up with all of them and that I still have them in my life. And I’m so touched that they came out to support me.
Also, if you’re wondering, yes, that brave soul to the far right is, indeed, the lovely and amazing Noelle Tannenbaum. She’s now an honorary Somers grad, whether she likes it or not. It was so much fun to hang out with her again! You know, hers is the first personal blog I ever started reading, by the way, which makes her my oldest blog friend.
So, basically, I had a wonderful, wonderful weekend, and now I miss everyone like crazy and need to start planning my next trip. Also, since I was away, my canine entourage is a little more intense again. I need to go now so I can sit perfectly still on the floor next to Stella while she considers eating.