Familiar

'Marmotte -- Groundhog' photo (c) 2012, Gilles Gonthier - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Not Murray

“I see Murray! He’s hanging out down by the boat trailer!”

She’s talking about a groundhog who wanders the grounds of her family’s vacation house, and in the last couple of days I’ve come to think of this place as his home more than anybody’s, save maybe the woodpecker we keep hearing and the robin we keep seeing.  We haven’t named those guys yet. I guess we just like Murray best.

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We’re borrowing Murray’s space this week so Beth can work through the final edits of her doctoral thesis.  Five years in the making and here we are.

It’s just the two of us, so it feels familiar. We’ve been through this before, when Beth was finishing her Master’s thesis.  The lake, the quiet, the books, the pens, the reading and re-reading – yes, we have definitely been here before.

That’s the funny thing about being friends for nearly twenty years; we find ourselves cycling back to what’s familiar.

And I’m not sure this is a bad thing. In fact, I’m more inclined to think it’s actually a very good thing.  For the last five years Beth has been pursuing her degree abroad and you could count the time we spent in the same space in weeks – two weeks at Christmas, four weeks in the summer, two weeks at Christmas, four weeks in the summer.  We emailed and Facebooked and chatted on the phone.  We tried Skyping, but my computer microphone had issues and never took to working.  Mostly we just lived into the moments we got in the weeks she was home.

They were good moments, don’t get me wrong, but when you spend most of the year apart and away from each other’s day-to-day life, it’s easy to disconnect.  And it’s even a little bit inevitable.  But, what I’m realizing is that a little disconnect doesn’t mean that the friendship is in trouble, and it doesn’t mean any love is lost.

I think that’s why I’m so thrilled to be finding things this week so simple and familiar.  It’s an easy rhythm of talking and silence, of cooking and washing dishes, of reading and watching movies.  We’re telling stories and sharing inside jokes, making fun of each other and building each other up, challenging and encouraging each other in the same breath, just as we have been for two decades.

And that’s friendship – grown women, drinking wine instead of Cokes, but still the same kids who go on vacation and name the groundhog.

It’s wonderfully familiar.

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