One of the great pleasures of moving north was reconnecting with high school friends. I know I have mentioned this before but it is no small matter. Before I retired, during the sale of my house, getting rid of a lot of possessions from 37 years in the same home, and moving north, I yearned for a “quiet life.” My job was demanding, I taught college classes as well, and I just wanted peace and quiet. Luckily I had the perfect place to do that — my home in the mountains of Pennsylvania only a 2-hour drive away from Manhattan. Once the decision was made to move, I contacted the one person from high school with whom I maintained recent contact. Barbara immediately drew me into the reunion planning group that met for lunch once a month in New York City. This happy circumstance led to a great reunion and even better continued contact with a remarkable group of women.
Yesterday, seven of us met at The Atlantic Grill on West 64th Street for a lunch at which we could catch up, share stories of travel, children, grandchildren, mutual friends, and other things that longtime friends discuss when they get together. It sounds simple, but for me it is never simple. First, there is the dilemma of what to wear. I often feel like the country mouse when I go into the city particularly when I meet with friends that seem to have a lot more sophisticated activities than I do. (This by the way is not a complaint — just stating a fact — I wouldn’t want things any different in my life right now. OK — maybe a couple of things but that’s for another blog!) I will not share here what I go through to choose an outfit that always ends up with black jeans, a simple shirt (also usually black), and a vest. We won’t even discuss shoes! Second, I worry about whether I have enough in common with my high school friends to participate in the conversation. I did not stay long in the New York area after college. A few years of teaching on Long Island, a few years of working in Manhattan for Off-Track Betting Corporation’s President, Howard Samuels, and then off to Tallahassee where I stayed for 37 years. There is no third!
I am here to tell you that none of this matters. What mattered was how warm and caring these friends are. I do need to point out that we weren’t all good friends in high school — friends yes, but it was a small high school in a small community of like-minded people for the most part so that is not surprising. Thanks to Facebook we all keep in touch in a superficial way but these lunches are special. The face-to-face contact, the personal conversations, the sharing of experiences, and the updates on mutual acquaintances and friends by those who keep in touch. I’m pretty sure I smiled on the entire drive home. Instead of being tired from the long drives, I was energized by my friends. There is so much to talk about I think — ways to find out what we have in common beyond our high school experience. Each time we meet I look forward to the next time. It’s too bad we have to spend time eating I have thought; too bad we don’t have more people join us; too bad I have waited so long to rekindle friendships. Enough said. I feel lucky.
I know the title of this blog is trite but one reason why I have not blogged lately (and only one of many!) is not being able to come up with an appropriate title. Last week I paid my annual fee to Bluehost for hosting my blog and providing the url. Afterwards, I thought “This is not money well spent since I haven’t blogged in ages.” Blogging is so personal and even a bit dangerous. Will someone’s feelings get hurt? Will I provide too much personal information? Does anyone really care about what’s going on in my life? And, finally, so much has happened where do I start?
There are several major things that have happened to me since last March: Cancer, becoming a grandmother again, and the death of my dog. These things are way beyond what I ever expected to talk about in a blog devoted to life in the Poconos but are so much a part of who I am and what I am doing these days that they cannot be avoided. So I have decided to return to blogging now that it is almost fall up here and ignore the cancer thing and concentrate on things that we may have in common. Today’s blog will be about Sydney, my dog, who was put to sleep three weeks ago at the age of 12 1/2.As any pet owner will understand, it was a very difficult decision that was made more acceptable by a very understanding and compassionate vet who cried with me that Monday. She saw the signs even before I did and had the advantage of test results, xrays, etc. Here is Sydney’s story.
In 2001 Adrian fell for a poodle lab mix at PetSmart’s dog adoption day. We took Jake home and quickly realized that he was a difficult and abused dog that would be a challenge. About a year after that we thought that having a second dog might be a good thing for Jake so we started going to pet adoption days. Soon after that Big Dog Rescue called about one puppy left from a litter born in Bainbridge, Georgia, and wouldn’t we love to have this puppy?! One look at Sydney who was 5 weeks old at the time and we were hooked. It turns out that she was not a spaniel mix but a chocolate lab mix who would grow to just under 100 pounds. Our first girl dog, Sydney was a great sister for Jake and an easy to train dog from the very start. But it was later in her life that she became my best friend and constant companion. Sydney was the first dog that I could depend on not to run away and to stay close to our house and our family. She was so small that she could walk under Jake.
Sydney was with me through Jake’s untimely death, not to mention the loss of my best friend, Adrian. Then she retired with me to the Poconos, to a strange environment, snow and ice, and a new home. I’ll never forget returning from one of our Florida trips and having to dig trenches for Sydney to use the yard. She took to the snow like a real trooper although she will be most remembered for lying on the couch as close to family as she could possibly get.
What I quickly realized when I came home without Sydney was that I had never been alone in my Poconos home. There were always dogs or people here since I left Tallahassee in 2012. Dogs have structured my life for a long time and I am slowly getting used to being here on my own. The UPS man delivers without fear or having to drop packages on the other side of the gate, the downstairs gate gets left open to bring groceries in, I leave the house in the morning to visit Brooklyn or New York City without worrying about leaving Sydney for long periods of time, and most of all I still expect to touch her when I reach out on the couch in the evenings. If this all sounds too melodramatic or too soppy, I apologize. My constant companion and sympathizer, friend, and loyal supporter will be very much missed.