Monday, February 21, 2005

When Old Friends Call

I’ll admit, I'm particularly lacking in long distance friendship skills. But when a person is impaired by the particular strain of phone-a-phobia which afflicts me, keeping close ties becomes difficult as friends move away. I also admit that the drive to the middle of the state is a lame excuse for staying away so long. It's just two and a half hours, and yet it holds us years apart.

I send a christmas card every year (with pictures, of course) but somehow the gap remains without the sounds of the friendship to fill it. So I think, I wonder, and I imagine who my friend has become and where her heart has landed through all the ups and downs that come with the years. She’s been on my mind every day since I sent my card this year, and I wondered if she was still even there to get my note. It was one of those persistent thoughts that wouldn’t let go, and I began to get the feeling it was there for a reason.

Crazy, but that’s when the phone rang. All it took was that ever familiar sound of her voice in my ear, and the distance between here and forever-ago was erased in an instant. When old friends call it's like stepping into a comfy place in your past that you’d thought might stay bound as a photo album memory for the rest of time. The woman on the other end of the line might still be a 17 year old girl, even though many years have elapsed since we played out our teenage years, carefree and having fun. It's as if only the ages of our children have changed since we last spoke. The even pace of her voice and that familiar catch when she laughs takes me back to fake perms and dressing up the dog, dressing up ourselves and riding around in cowboy hats, loving life and playing pranks at church camp, jokes about “Sidebuckler”, and managing to get past the Ridgeways and the cops (well, thank goodness I did anyway) and standing beside each other as we took turns wearing wedding gowns just months apart.

It's good to hear the sound of the past that sparks the memories of a life that is a part of who you are, and that's exactly what happens when old friends call. A familiar voice becomes that comfy place it once was. We exist again where maybe we weren't so sure we did any more.

I’d had the feeling my persistent thoughts were there for a reason... and they were. Two friends each needed to know that we were more than just a memory to someone we cared about. Last night the past was just a way to get to where we needed to be today.

Someone needs to know they are more than just a memory.

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