“Each has his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known to him by heart and his friends can only read the title.”

1 Oct

We stare at each other for a brief moment, and immediately hug, my usual disdain for touch lost behind my excitement at seeing a bit of my past in front of me. Like a plum, she looks good to me.

15 years falls away like nothing more than a second skin, discarded and left to float, fertilizer for another day.


My children love her. They run to her without inhibition, without fear-even my normally shy second born warms up almost immediately, and starts crowing. They all laugh and laugh and she tells me “Your house is so full of life!”

And she’s right. It’s never quiet, it’s rarely dull, and at times I envy her silences, the silences I once had. But my house is full to it’s brim with heart and love and noise and cacophony and wonder.

My girls wave goodbye from the deck as we drive off, toothy grins and blindly happy smiles wishing us well. My friend waves and waves back, her face crested in a grin itself.

I can’t help but grin back at all of them, immersed in the world I have created for myself.


We wander the mall, something we never did as teenagers. Were we ever that young? Just yesterday I was stoned in her basement, trying to understand the allure of All My Children and getting sucked into a story line about someone being possessed by the devil while tripping over her dog. We wander, looking, not looking really but talking, the hurried catch up talk you have when you know time is short and limited.

And I was comforted in the familiar, a person who knew me, knew who I was, where I was, who was steadfast and unwavering in her person, who had changed but not changed. My friend has grown, but remained at her core someone who calmed me to be around. Someone I felt no need to pretend with, no need to build a facade around. I felt my defenses shatter, useless and unnecessary, and for the first time in a long time, it was like I could breathe air fresh and free of the garbage I usually let fester in my lungs.

We pondered buying a gong, and wondered what happened to us as we admired the bakeware.


We rush to a pub, trying to not speak over each other. She offers a book from long ago, one I vaguely remember as mine. I don’t remember even reading it.

“Keep it.” I say.  “It’s a better story this way.”


We try to remember to eat while filling each other up on 15 years of life, divorce, sickness, alcohol, fear, fulfillment, desire. Who we are. What we want. Where we are. Are we where we imagined we’d be? Are we who we thought?

Why did we think we’d change?

We speak of the love we hold for our partners, the simple love that comes of time and knowledge, that which runs deep like fault lines in each of us. How we can never imagine our lives without them. How lucky we are to have found at least this.

She reminds me that my children are wonderful, and blessings, and that we are doing something right. My daughters have gained an Aunt.

We pick at our food. We look at each other. The pauses in conversation are deliberate and meaningful. We fill up on starch and conversation.

We leave with bellies patted and full.

Together we have a vernacular, a common theme that makes sense to us, and I have missed this, living city to city with no roots, making no home, no past with anyone but myself. I envy those who have this, the immediate recall in a group of a grade 3 teacher or a grumpy old man from Halloween.

She reminds me that this needs to be created, and home is where you put it.


When it’s time to leave, I find myself wanting to say all the words but can’t. Wanting to tell her how I really have missed her and hadn’t known, how I had missed our common thread of humour and seriousness, our easy friendship. How I appreciated her visit, and did, in all honesty, want to visit again and again. My jokes about her moving to the Armpit were not jokes. My body screams for a piece of my past to be near.


11 Responses to ““Each has his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known to him by heart and his friends can only read the title.””

  1. Nat October 1, 2007 at 11:32 am #

    OMG girl… You’re making your ’emotionally whacked-out’ friends cry, over here. :p Holy crap!

    Glad you had a good time, but DAMN, warn a girl when she’s gonna need tissues !! 😉

  2. Hannah October 1, 2007 at 12:03 pm #

    I loved this post, your rediscovered joy was palpable in every word. In our short acquaintance I don’t think I’ve ever heard you this happy. Now that you’ve reconnected, don’t let it slip away again! We need these relationships from “before” to keep us grounded, I think.

  3. Amy October 1, 2007 at 12:26 pm #

    I have a friend like this. Thanks for reminding me.

  4. bine October 1, 2007 at 3:16 pm #

    meeting old friends can be wonderfully grounding.
    i have a friend whom i’ve known for 26 years now and whether we haven’t seen each other for a month or a year, we’re always back there immediately, like no time has passed. we have shared so much, it’s a solid foundation.
    it was so good to read this. i imagine you grinning there in that car, and it makes me grin myself.

  5. jen October 1, 2007 at 7:05 pm #

    this is so lovely, achy and lovely.

  6. thordora October 1, 2007 at 7:20 pm #

    Thank you all! It was so nice to have a good time for once!

  7. Cori October 1, 2007 at 7:22 pm #

    I’m glad it was everything you wanted it to be. I’m actually meeting up with a friend from my college days this week. I haven’t seen her in over a decade (wow, I am old!), but when we spoke over the phone, it was like the years had melted! I cannot wait to see her and laugh as we did when we were goofy, 20 year old punks! Now that she’s back on this side of the country, I plan to see her way more often. I hope that you’re able to do the same with your friend.

  8. jenny October 1, 2007 at 7:52 pm #

    Thanks for sharing–what a great thing to have old friends.

  9. CamiKaos October 1, 2007 at 8:42 pm #

    that’s lovely.

  10. bon October 1, 2007 at 8:48 pm #

    i’ve never heard you sound this happy either. just about YOU…like you had someone buoy you up for a bit, and you didn’t have to do the hard work of treading the dark waters of identity all by yourself.

    i am so glad.

    and i know these friends, and don’t see them enough, myself. i moved home…but they’d left. 🙂

  11. radical mama October 2, 2007 at 12:32 pm #

    That’s wonderful! It’s rare to hear you having such an unlifting time with… a woman! (See, we aren’t all THAT bad.) Good for you, I hope yout wo keep in touch.

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