A Young Friend

Sometimes all it takes to make you feel at home with yourself, and the “new” place where you now live, is to see a friend from your “old” life (a person you used to babysit many years ago, a person who was a “junior” bride’s maid in your wedding, a person who invited your children to be in her wedding). You have a visit with your young friend and you see how she is all grown-up, a successful working woman and a gifted and energetic mother of her own young child. Seeing how she’s matured, might make you feel old and gray but you feel strongly that it’s worth the pain of such a humbling moment…to see how the evolution of time has changed this young person…so gracefully…so beautifully.

What a blessing, too, that one of your “east coast crowd” is out here, “on this side” of the country, with you. Like a refreshing breeze from your “homeland,” that blows in to cleanse you of your tiresome inner yapping about east coast/west coast, this young friend both soothes and energizes you. Your mutual history (made up of many years when your family’s story consistently overlapped with her family’s) has always made her like a family member to you. Your visit, brief though it is (for your young friend is a journalist covering the Gymnastics Olympic trials in San Jose and eventually the visit will have to end and she will have to return to work), instantly makes you feel less anxious about some of the hurdles you feel you’ve encountered during the past few months. You think to yourself, I need to watch my dear friend closely…to learn a few things…about how to relax into this “California-ness.” How does she embrace this life here so wholly…so easily?

Later, when you glimpse the joy that washes over her face as your young friend recalls a moment with her little son (who waits back home in southern California with his father for this work trip to be over) you are reminded of how so much of your own mothering style was bred out of the many hours of “mothering practice” you had long ago when you babysat this young woman. She now stands tall before you…a grown up…your peer…a treasured friend…in California.

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