Monday, October 20, 2014

Seattle, Portland and the gift of friends

After San Diego, Coty and I went to Seattle.  Ah, Seattle - this city and its environs and so beautiful.  All the water - the Puget Sound, the lakes, the rivers - and of course, the mountains - the Olympic range to the east and Mt. Ranier, such a majestic backdrop to the city (when you can see it ; )

We visited the Arboretum and, upon the strong recommendation of a friend here, the Japanese Gardens (thanks, Joy).  We went to the Ballard Locks and Gas Works Park and later in the visit, I got to go to the Museum of History and Industry.  We went to the top of Mt. Erie for the views and hiked near Deception Pass and Rosario Beach.  We spent a lovely day in La Conner and watched boats and seals in the Skagit River from our lunch restaurant deck.

Coty left after a couple of days to fly to Indonesia but I stayed for a nice long visit ...

As much as there is to see and do in Seattle, though, this trip was not mostly about seeing the sights.  It was about seeing my friends.  My oldest friend and one of my newest.

In the ninth grade, we were the new girls.  I had moved from Atlanta and she from Philadelphia. We went to a play with our English class and hit it off.  Then we were in the school play together, she the sophisticated northern girl, me the hillbilly hick.  Fitting.  The other morning when I came downstairs to her beautiful kitchen that looks out across the fields to a snow capped mountain, I told her I'd done the math.  We've been friends for 43 years.

I know how rare it is in this day and age to have a friend who's known you for so long.  One who knows your history and your family, who you love even more now than ever, a friend that you laugh with just as much as you did when you were teenagers, a friend that prays for you, and remembers birthdays and significant dates.  Such a friendship is a gift. A treasure.

And then, I got on a bus and rode for three and a half hours to Portland where I finally met, face to face, a friend that I've known via the internet for a long time.  A few people that I told about my trip thought it was a bit odd that I was going to meet and stay in the home of a person I had only known online and through a few handwritten cards.  Someone told me I was brave.  Others were curious.  It didn't feel odd or scary to me.  It was more like a Julia and Avis moment, I told someone.  We've corresponded at length and deeply for a long time and it was time to meet in person.  I was going to the Pacific Northwest anyway.  Why not take a trip to Portland and sit face to face with this dear friend, to fill in the colors of the line drawing of our friendship.

And so we met - on a city street, as I got off the bus.  There she was with her youngest son and we hugged and went to breakfast and shopped for books. A street poet wrote a poem for us. Then we drove the 45 minutes or so to her home among the trees and it felt just. right.

We talked and talked over coffee and tea, we cooked together knowing that we share such similar thoughts and tastes about food, we walked in the woods and along a trail that was familiar to me because I've seen pictures from this place for years.  The rain came in the night, the pellet stove warmed, the ducks quacked, the cat crawled on my lap.  This friendship, too, is such a gift.  This woman, a treasure to me.

Sitting here, thinking about these friends who are physically far away but oh, so near in my heart makes me miss them, makes me wish they were closer, makes me wish we could just drop over for coffee or share a meal together, but, dadgummit, there's a whole, big country in between.  Why do we have to be so far apart!  Ah, well - let me be glad this morning.  I'll not bemoan the distance, but give thanks that I've been given the sweet gift of deep friendship, two times over out there in the Pacific Northwest.  Looking forward to my next trip some future day and urging them both to come soon to North Carolina!


tonia said...

I keep thinking about the moment when you got off the bus and I saw your face and I just knew, knew, knew it was you. There was no weirdness, no getting to know each other awkwardly. We've already done that over the years, haven't we? :) You are so beautiful and such a gift to me. Thank you for taking the risk to come see me. xoxoxo

beth said...

That was a sweet moment wasn't it, t.

Julia C said...

Love this! It makes me want to get to know a friend that way...

Kathie said...

It's a gift to read about you two having such a lovely time together - and of course, wishing I was there! So glad for you both. And looking forward to the day when I can do the same!