I have never been very good at making friends. Part of the problem is my natural shyness and a difficulty warming up in new situations. I don't have old friends my hometown or college. My oldest friend is my ex-neighbor Mary Lou.
Mary Lou and I lived on the same street in West Seattle. We met when she came collecting for the Red Cross with her tow-headed twins. Her daughters are a year older than my oldest daughter. She and I struck up a conversation and have been talking ever since. Numberous cups of coffee have been drank together while we watched the children grow. We took ESL and guitar lessons together. We have gone to parks and plays. We even played volleyball on a church league together. It was a total fiasco and our name, Luther's Losers, was very appropriate.
I moved away when the twins were nine, but we have kept in touch. Some years it has only been a Christmas card, but whenever I came back to Seattle I made a date with Mary Lou. Since I have moved back I try to see her several times a year. She lives in the same house as when our children were small. I have moved five times since then. She is married to the same man for nearly forty years and I am recently divorced. Her life is always so serene and upbeat. Mine is always frenetic and stress filled, but she puts up with me for reasons I don't fully understand. Our lives are very different but the friendship remains. The connection is always there.
Mary Lou and I had dinner together last night. Two of our daughters are now mothers and we get to share pictures of the grandchildren. We discuss what a wonderful world this would be if we were in charge. We share a love of books and our travel stories. We ate Chinese and laughed. We were the last people to leave the resturant.
Many years ago after I had moved from our little neighborhood, I had a dream. In the dream I was lost and so alone. I dispaired of finding anyone in that dark and lonely place. I rounded a corner and found Mary Lou. She was dressed in white and she was surrounded by a radiant glow. She is a large, soft woman and as she took me in her arms I was enveloped in her love.
Mary Lou is a true friend. We don't share a lot in life except for that love of books, motherhood, and now grandmotherhood, but there is always that connection. I feel as warmed by her now as I felt when I woke from that marvelous dream.