I met my friend, Barbara, for an overdue birthday dinner. We’re both born in September, I’m one week older. We’ve been getting together to celebrate since her parents included me in her 14th birthday party at the Chart House, now Sage, in New Haven. There were four girls, her mom and dad. It was our freshman year of High School and I had only met Barbara three weeks before at the start of the year. We hit it off, became fast friends and have remained so since. Back then we saw each other daily, sat on the school steps between classes where I’d smoke Newports, played cards in the cafeteria during study hall. I slept at her house most weekends, tried staying out of trouble while hanging out at the nearby baseball field with bottles of beer and boys. Our dates now are less frequent, my drink of choice is water and there’s not much opportunity for getting into trouble. We’re middle-aged, after all.
Tonight, the only two in a restaurant that just started serving on Mondays, we talked about parents and kids and siblings, caught up on each other’s life. We talk in shorthand, can start a story in the middle because we both know what came before. Our conversation was comfortable and easy; I’ve always been able to say whatever I want and so has she without worry. I’ve never felt judged even when I should have been. After dinner we went back to her house, drank coffee and ate leftover Halloween candy (actually I was the only one eating it); just the right way to ease back into the work week.