Sunday, December 27, 2009

True Friends, Amazing Coincidences, and How 15 Years Melted Away in One Day

"Tonight I'll dream while I'm in bed
When silly thoughts go through my head
About the bugs and alphabet
And when I wake tomorrow I'll bet
That you and I will walk together again
I can tell that we are going to be friends..."

- "We Are Going To Be Friends" by White Stripes

Have you ever had one of those days when the Universe reminds you in some amazing way that everything is interconnected, that things happen the way they do for reasons and not at random, and that the truly important people in your life will always be the truly important people, no matter what? That was the Christmas present the Universe gave me this past Saturday.

True Friends

Saturday morning I logged on to Facebook, and immediately got an IM from my friend Aimee. She had told me earlier that she was planning to be in town and we had decided to try to get together; until we found each other on Facebook about a month ago, we had not heard from one another in nearly fifteen years.

Aimee and I worked together at The Marion Court Room Restaurant here in Lancaster, PA, in the early-to-mid '90s, and we became very good friends during that time. Our shared love of staying up until all hours of the night discussing life and philosophy over a bottle of wine (or several) was the launching point for a friendship that saw much laughter, a few tears, a lot of advice given and taken, and the security of knowing that, even if we occasionally ticked each other off or had to sometimes call each other on poor choices, we each had a friend out there who would always be supportive and non-judgmental.

Eventually, Aimee's life took her to Rochester, NY, and though I did go to visit her once shortly after she moved, the years have a way of piling up without you realizing it. And now, fifteen years later, we were going to be getting together again.

We wound up meeting for drinks at Iron Hill Brewery. I was a bit worried going in - we've all been in those situations where you get together with someone you've not seen in quite awhile, only to discover you no longer have much at all in common. You suffer through seemingly endless awkward silences, furiously wracking your brain for a believable excuse to get away, and after parting with a half-hearted "We'll have to do this again sometime," you head home wondering how you ever were friends in the first place. What if that was the situation we'd be faced with?

From the first moment of our reunion those worries vanished in the warm hug of old friends who were so happy to see each other again. After some initial standard questions (married? kids? what kind of work are you doing?), we fell into our old familiar rhythm of conversation. The Aimee sitting across from me Saturday was still the Aimee I knew and loved all those years ago, and it was so good to hear her laugh again, to listen to her dreams for her future, and to reminisce a little bit about the good friends we worked with so many years ago.

Over the course of almost three and a half hours, it was as if the years and distance were never there. We both remarked during the conversation how it felt as if we had just seen each other the day before. As I noted on my Facebook page, I believe that's how you know your truest friends: when you can get together after even years apart and pick right up like no time has passed. It was a wonderful, happy feeling.

That evening, I had plans to head out to The Chameleon for a CD release show for the band Slimfit, who were co-headlining with my favorite local band, Perkasie. I invited Aimee, but she was hitting the road early the next morning and so she had to pass. As it turned out, she missed out on the most amazing part of the entire day.

Amazing Coincidences

The group of us that met up at The Chameleon was made up of several of Lancaster's local Twitter users. The Twitterati, as we have been blanket-labeled, are a great group of folks, many of whom I have become very good friends with in real life as well as online. We share the ups and downs of our individual experiences, and my get-together with a friend I hadn't seen in so long was a topic of conversation early on. Everyone agreed that friends who can reunite and pick up where they left off in that way are the very best friends to have, and they are rare and valuable indeed.

Among the "where are they now?" reminiscences that Aimee and I pondered that afternoon were a couple that we worked with and were each also very good friends with, Ski and Sara. They were two of the kindest, warmest souls you would ever care to meet. They embraced the hippie lifestyle, but in a very real way, not as part of the "hippie fad" of the nineties. Ski's long red hair, mustache and beard and tie-dyed wardrobe, and Sara's free-spirited bohemian ways always made it seem like they had somehow been transported through time from the heart of 1967 Haight-Ashbury; it surprised no one that they eventually found one another and married. We knew they had also left Lancaster years ago, but weren't sure where they wound up. Aimee thought they might have gone to Colorado, while I somehow had it in my head that they were in New England.

As the night drew to a close and Perkasie were launching into the last song of their set, I happened to glance over and catch the sight of two hippie-ish looking folks dancing joyously to the music. They, looked familiar, but I couldn't quite place them at first. When I realized I was looking at Ski and Sara, I was literally dumbstruck. I made my way over to them, but found myself unable to say anything. Sara saw me first, and her infectious smile snapped me back to my senses. Ski saw me too, and just began laughing, and I was quickly swallowed into a tremedous embrace by the both of them. "Sara thought that was you!" Ski told me, "We weren't sure though, we couldn't get a good look at you!"

How amazing: Ski and Sara weren't in Colorado or New England - they were in Lancaster, PA, at The Chameleon, on the very day that Aimee and I had reunited and wondered aloud what had ever happened to them. When I shared that I had seen Aimee just that afternoon, Sara's mouth dropped: "We were just talking about her!" Sadly, we weren't able to spend much time together, but we did exchange contact info and have made plans to catch up with each other the next time they are in town, whenever that may be. And, much as I had with Aimee, I found myself falling right back into the old familiar rhythms of conversation with Ski and Sara, as if they had been there the day before. Ski's hair has changed from red to grey and Sara's wearing hers much shorter now, but they were still the Ski and Sara I knew and loved.

15 Years Melted Away

And that is how, in the span of roughly 12 hours, three of my dearest friends from my past, none of whom I had seen in nearly fifteen years, came back into my world, and how the Universe reminded me that the connections we make throughout our lives - the important ones anyway - always remain. It made this one of the best Christmases ever.

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