Part of my rationalization for moving north after 37 years in Tallahassee was proximity to family and dear friends. High school friends contacted me when they knew I was going to be closer and encouraged me to join their monthly lunches in New York City. What an absolute pleasure! Lunches are happening to plan our reunion in May so there is little time for catching up other than to ooh and aah on how good we all look (and we do!)! So, Sheila, Eileen and I had a breakaway lunch to really talk and find out what’s been going on in our lives these past several decades. We met on Friday in the theatre district for a good long chat. I learned so much, not only about Sheila and Eileen, but about myself as well.
My day started off by misreading the bus schedule, so ticket in hand, I ended up driving into the city, taking a new route over Bear Mountain, which was beautiful on the sunny cool day. It turned out to be far less stressful than the NY Thruway which, for anyone who’s ever used it, is frenetic to say the least. So, it was a lovely easy drive and I was glad to have missed the bus! I parked one block from the restaurant and happily walked to a bookstore for the hour I had to myself, then proceeded to Cafe Un Deux Trois (homage to our French teacher Dr. Zakarin?).
Once Eileen and Sheila walked in the door, I was immediately transported back to high school feeling 17 again. We hugged and I couldn’t stop looking at them. Having seen Sheila recently at another of the lunches, it was Eileen that I had not seen in over 40 years. She looked exactly the same and I would have known them both anywhere! We caught up on family — I am always amazed at how every family has its dramas and yet they are all so similar. The things they remembered — my difficulties with my mother, how I ate mayonnaise and white bread as a snack after school (yes, really), who we each dated — weren’t really surprising because I remembered specifics, too. The three of us spent many Friday nights together at Sheila’s house, usually ending up at the movies depending on which boys were going to which movie. These evenings typically ended up at the diner and was followed by a lot of gossip, chatter, and laughter. I remember Sheila’s mother corralling her twin sisters to keep them out of our way and the common experiences that we shared. There is nothing like having that history.
We discovered that Sheila and I both taught middle school science teachers although neither of us ever aspired to that in college; that Eileen had to leave college to care for her grandmother and had a career as an interior designer; that we all have children, they have grandchildren; that our boys have things in common; and that we were all still 17 in our heads!! I found out that they didn’t keep in touch with many people from our class either and that there would always be a connection through our shared time at Jericho High School.
Our lunch ended with me discovering that I had lost my ticket to redeem my car at the parking garage. Since I pride myself on being organized, I was very upset with myself, sure that it would be a big deal at the garage. As we left the restaurant, they both offered to go with me to see about my car. I declined their help but felt so good that there were friends who were willing to do that for me and cared enough to offer (in spite of Eileen’s back pain and wish to just find a cab!). It was a wonderful feeling. When I arrived at the parking garage they were able to find my car within a few minutes and all was well. I was on the Henry Hudson Parkway within 10 minutes and reflected on our lunch. At one point we all commented on how easy our conversation was. Eileen remarked, “You see, you can go home again, it’s just different.”