Monday, March 30, 2015

March 28, 2015 - A Toast to Great Friendships

Once upon a time when the earth was young, Dave and I moved to Poughkeepsie, NY where Dave had been hired as an engineer for IBM. Of course, we knew no one. And few people were being hired at that time due to a poor economic climate, so his work colleagues were older with homes and families and little time to spare. But shortly after moving into our apartment, another young couple moved in below us. Upon making introductions, we learned they were on assignment with IBM from Hursley England. Shortly thereafter, they introduced us to another couple on assignment from Hursley and that was the beginning of a lifelong friendship between the 6 of us. 

Syd and Mad (who were married to each other at the time but now have different partners) and Ron and Chris (still married to each other) and Dave and I did lots of everyday and weekend things together as we all explored the newness of the New York area. We became great friends and constant companions. Then they left after a couple of years to go back to England. That was around 1972. They left a large hole in our social interactions in Poughkeepsie.

In a wonderful serendipity, Dave was offered an assignment in Germany in 1974 which we took with great excitement. Over the 3 1/2 years of that assignment, we were able to vacation together in Greece, the ski slopes of Lermoos Austria, and several French locations. And we visited each other a few times in our respective homes in England and Germany. 

But once we went home in 1978, our visits stopped and we kept in contact mostly by the annual Christmas letter and occasional business trips.  We visited England in 1981 but then we all became busy in raising children. It was 17 years later (1997) that we brought our children to Europe for a month's vacation and stopped for a few days in Winchester for a visit. And now we're here again, it is 17 years later again, the children are grown and we are all grandparents. We joke that our every 17 year visitation plan is not going to hold out much longer, as none of us is guaranteed another 17 years of life. We are hoping to change our ways now that we are all retired (well, mostly)

We have indeed seen Ron and Chris a few times in the past few years - we spent 2 months in France in 2011 and they came to visit us for a week there. They came to the US in 2012 where we met in New Orleans for French Quarter Fest and then they spent a week with us in Madison, WI. 

We don't see each other often, but when we do, it's as if we'd just had coffee together yesterday. That's the sign of a great friendship in my mind. We are immensely comfortable in each others' presence. 

We're currently staying with Ron and Chris and they invited Mad and John and Syd and Jean for dinner Saturday night. Chris had planned a super 3-course meal, the recipes for which she has now promised to send me. John and Jean were amazingly indulgent as we caught up with the lives of our children and grandchildren at first but then spent enormous amounts of time reminiscing over our former escapades and adventures. We laughed till our sides hurt. 

Syd, Mad, & John
We had brought discs of images to share from our photo collection which Ron put onto the TV after dinner. Mad brought photo albums to share. We filled in blank spots for each other and remembered other times we had been together. Syd, now a dance photographer, shared photos of his daughter dancing. Pieces of art, each one. Mad had iPhone photos to share of her grandchildren. By the time things slowed down, it was 2:30 in the morning. As we were wrapping up, cell phones reminded Ron and Syd that it was actually 3:30 in the morning as England moved to daylight savings time that night. (Only they call it something else). 

John, Chris, Lynn
So at 3:30 am, these older than dirt friends finally and sadly parted ways, promising to see each other sooner than 17 years from now. May it be so because these good friends are so near and dear to our hearts.

Jean, Ron, & Syd
A toast to long and lasting friendships. We love you all.

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