Wednesday, April 29, 2009

IN CELEBRATION OF OLD FRIENDS


How comforting and comfortable is an old friend! Last night I had dinner with one of my two roommates of seven-plus years from my first stint in the Washington, DC, area. That was longer ago than I care to note, but I’ll give you a hint: Ronald Reagan was President then. We’ve managed to stay in touch across continents and years, and now are delighted to be in the same locale once again.

Her name is Elaine, but we’ve always called her Lainey, or sometimes “Elainercise” for her avid commitment to exercise (something that I decidedly lacked). We couldn’t have been more different. I was raised in the Deep South; Lainey was a New England Yankee. Lainey was a tomboy; I was a girly girl, at least in comparison. We had more than enough differences to aggravate each other, but usually managed to get along famously.

She was a quirky one, that Lainey. Being a creature of unvarying habit and routine, her 9:00 p.m. bedtime was strictly observed, no matter what was going on. If dinner guests lingered, she shot out of her seat at 9:00 with the cheerful announcement, “OK, I’m going to bed now. Good-night everybody!” Our revenge was to leave the dishes for her to clean up in the morning. Dinner out always meant a burger or a chicken sandwich for Lainey, and she never ate green beans because she thought they looked like green worms. She went for a walk every single day, usually along the same route beside the Potomac River.

Lainey was either in high gear or off, no middle ground. She woke up wide awake without benefit of coffee. She was in perpetual motion, talked a mile a minute, and rarely self-censored anything, which caused her a few problems on occasion. But she never meant to offend, and was guileless. A serious bibliophile, she loved to wander through used book stores looking for deals on lovely old books.

Lainey adored children’s literature, as she had a delightful, childlike view of the world with a creative and vivid imagination to match. (Why else would she see green beans as worms?) I think she was very much like Beatrix Potter in that way. To me, this is her most endearing, and enduring, quality. She was also a very loyal friend, quick to forgive, and never held a grudge. And, she was fun.

All this discussion about Lainey I have stated in the past tense. The best part of her, however, is that she hasn’t changed. Our lives have been so divergent, and on some things we differ where we once agreed, but she is in essence the same person with the same endearing quirks and qualities whom I lived with all those years ago. It is rich and comforting to have such a friend, especially in times of personal and national upheaval, a constant when everything else is shaking. As I start life over in the DC area with new friends and situations, it’s great to connect with a friend whom I know so well, and who knows me so well. It is comfortable as well as comforting, like putting on your favorite slippers at the end of a long day on your feet, or savoring your favorite soothing music after enduring the cacophony of the city all day. So, three cheers for old friends!

I have to tell you, though, that although the chicken sandwich is still a favorite menu item for Lainey, she has branched out into Thai cuisine.

1 comment:

  1. Anne Lewis22:05

    Hah! Lainey was MY roommate before she was yours! You paint such a great picture of her. Please tell her that I said hello and ask to her to shoot me an email or FB friend request or whatever her preferred method of communication is.

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