A Simon & Garfunkel song, Old Friends, Bookends has one of the most haunting melodies I have ever heard. It is the haunting, lilting tone of remembrance, the ways things used to be.
Memory brushes the same years
Last weekend one of my oldest friends, Lou, came to visit me. Lou was the Home Economics and Japanese teacher at the first school I ever taught at. We instantly became friends. Have you ever met someone you just clicked with, someone with whom there is a moment of recognition with which you identify so strongly you actually say to yourself – ‘Where have you been all this time?’
Straight away Lou just got me. It was such a relief to not have to explain myself every five minutes, to not have to worry about my tendency to talk in circles and jump from point to point without completely explaining the previous one.
I haven’t seen Lou for six years. She has been living in Japan but has recently returned to Australia with her husband and three children. We met up on Friday night and I will admit to feeling a little nervous beforehand. There is always that concern when you haven’t seen someone for a long time that they will have changed or that they will think you have and will be disappointed.
As I waited for Lou to turn up at the restaurant I found myself lost in a room I hadn’t visited for almost twenty years. My old house in Bondi that had the sunroom at the back that looked over a park. Lou and I used to make carrot cake so delicious it melted in your mouth and sit in the sunroom and eat it while drinking tea we bought from Madame Eva’s shop down on the beach. Madame Eva used to tell everyone who came into her shop that she had gypsy blood and for an extra dollar she could put something special in the tea leaves like a love potion, or a tonic or a curse. I was never brave enough to take her up on her offer but Lou got a love potion tea once that tasted very strongly of cinnamon. She met a man shortly after she began drinking it. But he ended up breaking her heart.
This is Lou and I in 1991. It seems so long ago now. We were both only 26. How quickly time passes.
The final part of Old Friends goes –
A time it was
It was a time
A time of innocence
A time of confidences
Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you
When I look at this photo I often think of that song and of what a time it was back then. Our bitter thoughts, our disappointments, our sins were few. We were like boats traveling along the coastline, just drinking everything in.
You can live a lifetime in six years, a lifetime that can crush your optimism into dust right before your eyes; but I needn’t have worried with Lou. It was the same as it had always had been. The chatting, the laughing, the finishing each other’s sentences – and above all, the sense of gladness at being in each other’s company.
Sat on their park bench like bookends……
Can you imagine us years from today
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange to be seventy…
I can imagine it now. Lou and I with our support hose and walking sticks, sitting in the park watching the birds scratch for grubs. Years from today. It will be strange but enormously comforting. Old friends. They are irreplaceable. We should make a habit of telling them how much they mean to us.
Great post,Selma. It certainly bought back memories for me. I went to see Simon & Garfunkle in Sydney with a group friends back in 1983. It was a springtime, outdoors gig and it was wonderful. I was 20, you would have been 18. Did you go?
Beautiful. You’re right…I definitely need to tell some old friends how much I love them.
Hey, um….my comments aren’t posting. Is it because I’m in Firefox?
I have know my best friend for almost thirty years and I feel it would be the same for us if we didn’t see each other for years. That time would just melt away and it would be as if we had just seen each other yesterday. Those friendships are far and few between and should be cherished.
Friendships like that are what makes life worth living. I don’t know about the walking in the park with canes thing, though. I mean, I hope it happens, it’s just that I don’t really look forward to being that old, even though it’s happening before my eyes. I guess it beats the alternative.
Wow, a tide of nostalgia welled up in me as I read about you and your lovely friend. It’s such a gift to embrace age as it introduces itself into our lives. Some people fight it, and then they get old really immediately.
I love that song by Simon and Garfunkle, both the words and the melody/harmony.
I was in Bondi 7 years ago! It’s a beautiful beach and town. Now that brought back memories.
How totally super awesome is THAT. I love to hear real stories about real friendships that can stand the test of time and space like you and Lou.
Its so true, Selma. There is nothing as wonderful as an old friend. I’m so glad you were able to reconnect with Lou. How terrific that she is near you again geographically.
It’s true. You can add to your list of friends but none of them can be replaced.
Not many people are lucky to keep their friendships for a long period of time. A lifelong friendship is an innate connection of souls. I feel blessed to have kept some from my childhood, college and even from just 15 years ago. 🙂
DAVID – I did go. It was magical. So many beautiful songs. So many wonderful memories. How amazing to think that you were there too.
LINDA – oh we should definitely cherish them. I’m so glad you have a dear friend like that. There is something so comforting about the shared history, isn’t there?
RICHARD – I can’t say I’m too keen on the canes, either. Maybe I’ll just go for one of those motorised scooter thingies (the turbo version) and do wheelies in the park!
CAROLINE – I can’t believe you were in Bondi. WOW! And I agree, we should definitely embrace age. We certainly can’t fight it. If we embrace it we might just find there is nothing to be afraid of.
MELEAH – I love to hear them too. There are so many dysfunctional stories out there that it is like a breath of fresh air to hear a happy one!
EPIPHANY – it was brilliant to see her again. Just like old times. It’s so great when you realise some things never change!
CHRIS – ‘an innate connection of souls.’ I really like that. What a perfect way to describe it!
Remind me to call Lori. 🙂
I love this post. (I am catching up.) Just back from vacation.
Can’t wait to hear about your vacation. Hope you had a good time!
Yay for Lou! I have a few friendships like that. Most of my friends live far away from me now, and many of them are not too good at keeping in touch except for the odd email forward. But when we manage to get together, it doesn’t seem like any time at all has past. I like to hang on to people who “get” me; it’s really nice to be able to be completely yourself around someone.
I met my oldest friend when we were in kindergarten (some 43 years ago). Then several years ago I met two wonderful women at a creative writing class. When we got together, it was like we were old friends from the very beginning. I’d be lost without them. It was also like that when I met LOTM. I just KNEW.
Excellent post, and I’m so glad you two got to meet up and renew the friendship. Support hose and walking sticks, my eye. I’d guess you two will be out there chasing birds and flirting with all the boys even when you’re 75.
its ‘wonderful to find friends like that….
Wonderful song too, perfect match for the post…
I suppose this is one area I’ve missed out on. Although I had a close friend for many years, most of my life I’ve changed things, moved to different places, and friends have tended to be transient.
Six years can be a lifetime, and yet it can be a blink of an eye. I’m glad you’re staying part of each other’s lives.
DAOINE – isn’t it nice when you haven’t seen someone for ages and there is still that sense of ease between you? I’m so glad you have some friendships like that too. People who really ‘get’ us are rare, we have to hold on to them!
KAREN – WOW. That is certainly an ever-lasting friendship. I’m not surprised at all – you would be a friend worth holding on to. And I can see Lou and I flirting with the boys at 75. We might go a bit younger when we get to that age, though. Maybe we’ll chat up the 60 year olds!
CRAFTY GREEN – I just love that song. It’s so poetic, don’t you think?
ANTHONY – well you certainly have many, many friends in the blogging world and we hope you stick around for a long time!
JASON – you’re right – it can also pass in the blink of an eye. I am so grateful for the friends I have, both old and new!
Aawww, Ms. Karen–I’d be totally lost without you and KH too! I guess we’ll just have to wander around together for the rest of our lives, huh? Maybe we can meet up with Selma and Lou and all flirt with boys together.
Selma, Simon and Garfunkel defined my high school and early college years, and “Old Friends” is still a favorite. I hope you never have to wait six years again before being able to spend time with Lou. Friends like Lou, and Ms. Karen and KH are precious gems.
SAGACIOUS WOMAN – close friends definitely are precious gems. How fortunate you are to be in such a tight-knit group. Oh, the fun you must have together. One day I hope to hang out with you all and have a chat. That would be brilliant!
my nomadic lifestyle has all but rendered me friendless in these terms.. i have fond memories and places in my hear held open for each of them along the way,, but fear we will never meet again… i loved this and the reminder of simon and garfunkle,, not just this song but many was a door to many an unsung song… thank you selma…..
My oldest friend and I have known each other since I was 4 and she was 3. We rarely see each other as she now lives in Melbourne but when we do it’s always as if no time has passed. I have met a few other people with whom there has been an instant recognition of kindred spirits and it really is the most awesome feeling.
PAISLEY – well, you got a friend in me. I also have one or two people I’ve lost touch with and it pains me. Sometimes life just gets in the way. I hope that one day you get to meet again those people you hold in your heart.
GYPSY – it is an amazing feeling. I think it is a link to the true essence of the person. It really is what they mean when they say – some people just click. Some people do!