My best friend, Jody, from Sarasota, has come up to visit. Her eldest son, Lee, moved up to our area when we did – actually sooner. He came up with Mark to help with our dilapidated vacation cabin when we first bought it to help with the remodeling project, then fell love with the area and a girl, and decided to stay. We ended up moving here some time after him when FLEX sold so shockingly fast and we found ourselves with the rug pulled out from under our feet before we knew what was happening (another story).
Lee and his girlfriend have a new baby –convenient for me because it motivates Jody to visit despite her busy life as a single mother/hard working school social worker. She is my age, yet a grandmother three times over now – and considering we’ve been friends since our sons were two, that is really weird to get used to. When did we get so old?
When Jodi comes, up she stays a night or two with her son, but then moves to our house for the remainder of the trip. She sees her son, grandchild and his family every day when they are not working, but it is more comfortable for her to stay with us, because we have more room, great comfy beds, I cook, have laundry facilities and an unlimited supply of wine (ahem)…. Furthermore, she always comes up with her son, Kyle, and 6 year old grandson, Seby, and three guests are a lot for a young couple just starting out with a new baby. So we end up having a nice casual visit where she can come and go without feeling weird, and yet we can plan some fun for us too.
Her son, Kyle has been Kent’s best friend since they were in diapers. I always get such a kick out of seeing them together. They are seventeen and sixteen respectively, but when together, they seem like the same bumbling toddlers they were fifteen years ago, cracking jokes and doing silly, foolish, weird, boy things. They share a common understanding of the world having had similar experiences growing up, and they share a rich history of friendship and memories. This means there is always something to crack a joke about.
I listen to them talk, their voices growing deeper every year, their bodies getting broad shouldered and muscular, and I’m intrigued. The dynamics of their relationship seems the same as when they were two, and yet they are so obviously becoming men. They are more laid back than ever, and now their conversations occasionally slip towards subjects like college and the things they want to do in life. They will both get their license in the two months, so they also talk of cars. I couldn’t help but think that the next time we are together, these boys will just be able to take off in a car to go whitewater rafting or whatever, seeking innocent (or not so innocent) trouble to amuse themselves. Eeesh.
Mark and I have made some good friends here – couples we enjoy having over for dinner or going out with. But when Jody is around, I realize how starved I am for intimate friendship. You know what I mean…. The kind of friendship that sparks talk about serious things, with someone who asks sincere questions about your world and actually cares about the answers. In most cases the talk between casual or new friends is more polite, with the probing questions inspired by casual curiosity and in hopes to keep a conversation lively. That is nice, but not the same.
Jody doesn’t ask me how things are going with my reading student and say “Gee, it’s great you do that. She is lucky.” She asks me how this project has impacted me inside and how I feel changed. She asks questions about the process of teaching an adult to read, and where I think it will go, and what I have learned about literacy and its role in our life. She is curious about how I am preparing to teach the new literacy tutors (I do the training at the college August 19th). She is fascinated that there are so many people who can’t read in the world today, and this springboards our talk to bigger social issues. Shoot me, but I like to talk about issues that stretch beyond the daily personal stuff.
We talk about books, and I push her to read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” since it has had a profound impact on how I view food. (It has changed how I shop and eat and cook and explains a great deal about how and why I am reinventing my life.) Intrigued, she vows to pick it up, and then tells me all about what she is reading.
We talk about our dreams of retirement, how we will fund those dreams (we both have our sites on a tiny secondary place in Italy to visit regularly) the new business Mark and I are planning to open, my masters experience (she has earned two masters as an adult student, so she really “gets” this. I typed half her term papers, so I know far more about psychology than my little brain can handle) and my current book project (she adored my first book and I had nag to talk her out of giving it to her dad now, since I am rewriting it to make it a better work.) Like all friends, we talk of our children and family and work and the basics. She is curious about what makes me happy and if I am pleased about living here and what I miss. As I talk to her, I see her mind spinning, as if she is contemplating what her life would be like in a quiet rural place like this, even though she has never longed for this kind of lifestyle before.
Of course, I am curious about her world, and I ask questions about her work etc… in return. She is a remarkable person who cares about others on a proufoundly inspirational level.
I can’t tell you how much I miss good “real” conversation. Not that I don’t have some rousing conversations with my donkey, but really, Jody has better responses (and she doesn’t crap and chew while I’m discussing important world issues.) It is very rare to find a friend that you can relate to on a soulful level. You must cherish and preserve that kind of thing if you are ever lucky enough to stumble upon it.
Anyway – the visit was fun. We rented a boat one day and spent the day on Lake Blue Ridge, tubing, swimming and exploring. We tried every combination of people on the tube, the kids alone, then in groups. Kent and Kyle did daredevil stunts looking like Cypress Gardens Ski rejects. It was a crackup. The lake, with green mountains all around and a national forest taking up more than half the banks (assuring no houses or people for miles on end) is such a beautiful area – can’t believe it took us so long to take advantage of it (we’ve stuck mainly to the rivers)– but we will be going out on the lake often now, you can bet.
Thought I’d share a few pictures. Unfortunately, there are none of me (somehow they got deleted while Mark was clearing space in the camera) but Jody took some and will send them to me – so you may get a pix of me as a speed demon mermaid on the tube yet. Yes, I was quite the daredevil, holding on for dear life, my knuckles white, my hair flayed back to show off a sunburnt face, deep in concentration as I sucked up water from the wake (I KNOW Mark was trying to dump me by making sharp turns and heading for wakes, even if he batts his eyes innocently and denies it) I tried to impress my kids with a touch of water ballet by sticking my legs up in the air. That failed miserably, by the way.
This driving is serious business to the Dad ya know. “Onward, that ‘a way, young captain!”
All my friends MUST share a sense of adventure, or they aren’t any fun.This picture doesn’t do justice – you need sound so you can hear Jody’s squeeling to get the full effect of the moment.
Life is measured in the small moments that count.