Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Blast from the Past

I realize that I have not blogged for a few days, much to the chagrin of a certain someone (you know who you are...get your own blog!). But I suppose I actually do have stuff to talk about, so that's exciting...

On Tuesday, a friend of mine from 4th grade called me at 2:00 p.m. to say she and a friend would be in NYC in, oh, just about an hour. She was actually lost in south Jersey, had nowhere to stay, thought she could drive and park in Times Square, and thought she could make it a day trip. I said no, you drive to my apartment, park in my neighborhood, I will take you on a tour of the city, and that's that. So they did, and I did, and it was grand.

Jenny and I met in the second half of 4th grade at Pleasant Valley Elementary School after she moved with her family from Niagara Falls. We quickly became friends and were "BFF" through 7th grade...though how, I don't know. We were so unlike each other, and we still are. She was tall and drop dead gorgeous and tough as nails and amazing at sports and smart as a whip but not so good in school... I was average in looks, below average in athletics (though a dedicated little ballerina) and above average in my reading level and vocabulary. As far as I can tell, little has changed. She had more than a year on me in age, so I guess that contributed to her interest in boys far before me, though we still sat on the floor playing Barbies long past the age it was appropriate. We ran through the woods in dress up clothes pretending we were princesses or riding our bikes and pretending they were horses, and we sat on my porch for hours experimenting with hideous makeup until we looked like baby prostitutes... We played softball in my yard, went sledding down her giant hill, got our fair share of poison ivy on multiple occasions, and did a lot of walking up and down the windy mountain road that connected our houses for a good 3 years. She hid out at my house when her parents yelled at her too much, I hid out at her house so we could play with the puppies and bunnies that always seemed to be breeding there. We saw a lot of animal life and death together... I guess our love for animals and nature was really the thing we had most in common. By 7th grade, she had made a new best friend who I was (and I'm sure still am) terribly incompatible with, and that was pretty much that. We stayed in touch all these years, but hadn't seen one another since we were 16. Until Tuesday...

Jenny and her friend Wendy showed up in my neighborhood, I got them to a parking space, and as we ascended the elevator to my apartment, she did or said something that made me say, "You haven't changed at all!" "Neither have you!" she quickly retorted. And it seemed very true. We chilled out for an hour or so at my apartment, then Nick and I proceeded to take them on a grand and whirlwind tour of NYC. Dinner at an Italian restaurant in the Village, a walk through Washington Square Park and up through Union Square, the subway to Times Square, a long and horrible walk through that godawful place, then a walk to Radio City and Rockefeller Center, lots of pictures and window shopping, and finally Grand Central Station. For leaving Brooklyn at 6:30 p.m., I'd say we did a pretty damn good tour. We took the train back down to Union Square, got a few drinks at Park Bar, then went back to the neighborhood, stopped into my bar, and went home. It was exhausting and enlightening.

During those hours I realized how very different we are, were, and will always be. Jenny is married to what seems like kind of a lame guy who is in the Army and is a few years younger than her, but she has a 4-year-old stepdaugther who she has basically raised for the last few years who calls her Mom and who she is fighting to protect from her mentally ill biological mother. This is hard for me to believe, but she clearly loves this little girl with all her heart. It's really amazing the different paths we've taken... She's lived in California and Florida and New York and Maryland, still loves the outdoors like she always did, and goes hiking every day with her daughter and her dog, but didn't go to college and doesn't have a job, and is now living with her husband's parents in Virginia. She couldn't believe I could stand to live in a city and I could see the culture shock so clearly on her face... Most of our memories together involve my house and the woods I grew up in, and now our most recent memories involve this godforsaken city I now call home and have for more than 6 years. Insanity.

It's so strange to reconnect with someone who you share so many memories with but haven't seen in so long... But those memories are so distant and foggy that as they become clearer through more and more conversation, you wonder about the child you were and the adult you've become and can't quite figure out what happened in between. There's a huge rift in our friendship... We're the same as we always were, to some extent, but I don't know what we'll be in the future. It was amazing to reconnect with her, but I wonder what it has in store. Do we even have anything in common anymore besides a distant childhood in a world we've completely left behind? This sounds like the beginning of a bad novel that middle-aged women in the suburbs read. Ugh. I'm going to leave it at that and ponder this some more.

It's Friday afternoon... I'm done daydreaming and analyzing the past. It's time to move forward with the weekend...

No comments: