Monday, September 14, 2009

Old Friends

"Old Friends, sit on the park bench like bookends...."

Yeah, it's a Simon and you-know-who song, and don't worry, I'm not going into a tirade here again.

I had the privilege of having breakfast over the weekend with an old friend. It always feels so good to see Ginger, like pulling on the cardigan sweater you keep in the back of the closet, the only one that makes you feel warm on those days when you think you're coming down with the flu.

We met in the strangest of circumstances. It was nearly thirty years ago. I'd been physically assaulted and was in the hospital, literally fearing for my life. I begged them to put my in the psych ward, the only locked doors in the place, the only place I knew I could get a good night's sleep. My roommate there was Ginger, who'd had enough of the world at that time and had ended up being rolled into my room the night I arrived. We spent two weeks locked up together, talking, letting her friend Maggie sneak us in hot fudge sundaes, swapping therapy session stories and ranting about the therapist when each of our sessions resulted in the exact conclusions even when the issues we'd each raised had been extremely different. We scorned the so-called professionals there, plotted to assist a young woman's in escape from the ward (and succeeded!), and became fast friends.

We don't see each other often. I think it'd been a couple of years since we'd last seen each other, even though Ginger lives about three miles from where we camp. Saturday we met for breakfast and my new favorite spot, the Red and White Cafe in DeRuyter. We caught up on kids, grandchildren, our animals and retirement plans and life in general, met her latest dog, made vague plans to get together soon, waved good bye.

I carry her spirit with me still. She got me through some tough times; I like to think I helped her along the way, too. And we'll do it again someday. Gladly.

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