Why is it such a pleasant experience to run into friends unexpectedly? Dave and Karen just happened to drop into my favorite haunt this morning and I invited them to join me for breakfast. I assured them they weren’t intruding, and we were able to catch up on things since their return from wintering in Florida. After a really nice chat they were off to take care of other obligations.
I proceeded to set up my office and had just started considering timely topics for today’s post when I spotted John and Bonnie heading over to a comfortable sun-warmed booth; wow, the sun is actually shining today, it doesn’t feel quite so much like Seattle as it has for the past week! They were celebrating the end of tax season for John as he wrapped up work last night on his couple of hundred clients.
I guess there’s something about the familiarity, the shared memories, and the social connection that leaves me feeling good about these chance encounters. Our daughter commented a few days ago on Facebook that it was so nice to be out shopping in a new town they’d only lived in for two months and to run into someone she knew. Maybe friendship is an important part of developing a sense of place as well.
Last week it was Stew and Kathy. We go back more than thirty years, having met as part of a model railroading group I joined when my family and I settled in Grand Rapids. Stew caught me up on the rest of the Kenowa Valley Switching and Sipping Society, both the fun news and the not so happy stuff such as dementia invading our little group along with heart conditions, diabetes, Parkinson’s and other ravages of age. Still it was good to be in the company of friends. Oh, and they just now popped in again.
Sometimes my wife and I think we’re social outcasts, with really small circles of friends. But then we think about her Joy group, my Promise Keepers guys, our church choir family, and Jim, the old goat, and our close friends, Mike and Carol, whom we haven’t even seen in fifteen years since our families vacationed together in the mountains of Colorado. These are people who know and have been part of the best and worst of our times, the fun we had and the messes we made, the struggles we got through, the times when they needed to carry us or we them, and they love us and care for us anyway.
Oops, now it’s Ann and Dale breakfasting on the spur of the moment. When they asked what brought me here I mentioned this is my regular Tuesday hangout for blog writing which promptly piqued their interest. And I digress, happily…
Then there are our friends Lou and Ginny whom we met when Lou and I were young Air Force Lieutenants more than forty years ago. Adversity and change so often bring people together. We haven’t seen them in twenty-eight years, but we still exchange cards every Christmas. Somehow I think we’d pick up right where we left off despite these long years of absence. And our “Second Generation” camping friends whom I’ve known for over fifty years. And the friends whose acquaintance we’d made when our children met on a two week People to People Student Ambassadors trip when they were twelve. Sixteen years later and they are still the best of friends; and we can’t get through half a year without a quick trip up north to spend some quality time with Barbara and Stan.
Friends, they just seem to pop up when you least expect them to, and I love it. Hmm, sounds like a blog post; oh wait, it looks like I’m already blogging!
Way back in high school, my junior year, we performed the musical Funny Girl, first high school in the nation to get the rights or so we were told. More good memories there folks! Anyway, there’s a Streisand song from that musical, “People”, from which a particular line springs to mind; “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world!” Whether we admit it or not, we all need people. Sometimes when we think we don’t need anyone, those are the times we need each other the most. Although our circle is pretty small, I guess my wife and me, well we’re pretty lucky, maybe a couple of those luckiest people.
To all of you friends out there thanks for the chance encounters, the warm conversations, the cards and gifts, the shoulders we’ve cried on, the laughter that reduced us to tears and aching sides, the campfires we’ve sat around, the love we’ve shared … and the memories. Thanks for the memories, the old and dusty ones, the new and fresh ones, and the anticipated and longed for ones yet to come…