I have a friend, an old friend. We met on the first day of seventh grade when we were both lost and looking for the same classroom in the huge (well, it seemed like it at the time) highschool.
We have been through a lot together, but we have drifted apart. One of the big divisions, to be honest, is her religious convictions. Even when I believed, my faith took a far different path than hers. I don't debate faith. To each their own and I'm fine with it, but she kept trying to pin me down on various points of faith, things that she felt were unarguable points.
Like, you must believe that Jesus Christ is the only way.
She got quite emotional and told me then that my beliefs made her see me differently and that there were things that she could not discuss with me. Broke my heart to hear it, really, because I really felt that if she would stop discussing those things, we'd be fine, and we had plenty of other things that we did agree on.
The presidency of he who shall not be named drove an even deeper wedge. There were plenty of things that she didn't believe in that her president was fighting against.
So here we are. I think about her a lot, and I miss her a lot, but now I am turning 65 in a couple days and I have no faith at all. I could use a friend, but I know that she would be appalled.
I tell this old, old story because I know a batch of elders. They all are approaching 80 and they are childhood friends. Their roots go way back to a small town that no longer even exists.
They are as diverse a group as you'd ever want to meet. Two of them are tenants in two different houses on the bank of the river, and the third one is upriver just a little. The three women are the key members. There is a couple of ex-husbands thrown into the mix. They garden. They kayak, They migrate from deck to deck in the summer, to watch the river go by and to talk and laugh together on their comfortable back decks.
I envy them, really. Sometimes walking past their homes, I'll hear laughter from out back, and I'll go to the gate and call 'Halloooooooo the house!' and they'll invite me back and my voice joins theirs for a while. When I leave, they always say, "We need to do this more often."
What I like about this group the most is that they know each other, really know each other. They know that one of them is impractical, but they love her anyway. One of them follows no faith. One has (like me) recently fallen away from her church. Two are readers. One is vegan. One wants to catch one of the bass that lives under an old log 'snag' outside her back door. Their differences go on and on.
If you throw ex-husbands in the mix, well,..they acknowledge their flaws too. The one with a temper. The needy one who left to travel, telling his wife that she was not invited. He's back now. He got tired of traveling. By the time he had decided that, she'd decided that she really liked living alone. Despite all the baggage, those ex's are still part of the circle too.
I envy them, really. Their roots bind them together. As much as they have in common, they are all remarkably different, but the differences are acknowledged and accepted with grace.
It's a rare thing in these days.
I think of my own old friend, and feel sad.