Thursday, August 14, 2008


Having a column in Bay Windows has been an interesting experience--and has led to a number of unexpected connections. Occasionally, I get reaction (mostly positive) to my pieces, and my website is getting more traffic. Recently, someone asked me out (on a date)! after tracking my adventures through the column.

But my most surprising moment so far took place several weeks ago, when I skimmed my junk mail and opened a message from an old friend, who had not seen or spoken with in 11 years. Back in 1997, I lived with her and a mutual friend.....the three of us were all housemates in a communal house on Beacon Hill.

When I moved in, a month or two after they moved into our new house (an old Victorian in Brookline), I picked up a strange vibe/a weird energy. Some weeks later I found out that my good friend, whom I'll call Penny, had fallen in love with our other housemate, Paul. Suddenly I was the 'third wheel' living with a new couple.

The connection evidently just happened; there had been no attraction between them when we lived in our communal house. Based on the turn of events, and my feeling of being the outsider in the group, I decided to move out. But instead of being accepting/understanding, my friends became cold and distant.

I moved to Jamaica Plain and lived alone for the next year, hoping that I could rekindle my friendship with Penny, who during our time on Beacon Hill, seemed like the sister I never had. But when I called and left a message, there was no response, and evidently no interest in maintaining our connection.

The years went by, and I heard that my former friends had gotten married and started a family. Meanwhile, I focused on rebuilding my life, writing, and pulling myself out of a long history of depression. Even while I began to feel better, I held onto my sense of grievance, my resentment, of being misunderstood.

And then I got an email, out of the blue. We met for lunch yesterday, Penny and I, and I realized that she had missed me too, and that our friendship had enough value to her, to encourage her to reach out a decade beyond our last uncomfortable conversations.

When we actually got together, her voice, her laugh, her smile all seemed familiar. And underneath my sense of grievance was something deeper--a knowing that I had carried a story for ten years, a story that no longer had much energy. Instead, I chose to tap into the stories that came before, the adventures we had together, when we became good friends.

Now, Penny is a married woman in her late 30s, with 3 children. Now I am a writer with a different first name, past 50. And yet fundamentally, we're the same people who bonded as friends in 1994. It was interesting for me--one who often holds onto my stories for dear life and who doesn't yield my grudges easily--to discover that our bond was still there, still present, waiting to be rediscovered.


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