For a Reason, For a Season, Forever

This is a little side trip in the midst of the series of posts about my past year’s experience in Mexico. It ponders friendship. I took both these portraits when these two were here to visit.

There is a cliché about friendships. It goes like this: There are three kinds of friendships. Some are for a reason, some are for a season, and some are forever. When you think about it, this cliché is pretty true. There are people who come into your life for a reason…maybe you are working on a project together. Maybe they are  a teacher or a student for you. There are people who come into your life for a “season,” a period of time. This is the usual pattern for friendships. At my stage of life, I have had many of these. Sometimes it is hard to accept that a relationship was only meant for a season, especially if this is a relationship that has been important to you. But, people go separate ways, people change, and people do just evolve and move forward (hopefully). It doesn’t lessen the value of the friendship if it doesn’t last forever. Over the years I have had some very dear friends who I loved and enjoyed, but who are just no longer part of my life. One or both of us changed, and we drifted into different directions. Doesn’t mean anything unpleasant happened. Of course, sometimes things end because something unpleasant did happen. Sometimes a relationship ends because one or both people finally realize that the relationship was in some way unhealthy. Whatever happens, the “for a reason” and “for a season” relationships become memories. You might cross paths with those people and either have fond memories, or hope you can get out of the room before they see you.
Then, there are the forever friendships. In our fast paced world, most of the forever friendships will have to endure the tests of not only time, but also of distance, unless both people continue to live in the same town for their entire lives. During the course of this year I have been so fortunate to spend some time with two of my long term forevers. It was by no design of mine that both these old friends were around to give me support at the scary beginning of a major health crisis, just like they had both given me support so many times before.
I have been friends with Trudy (on the left) since sometime around 1969. She came to Nashville from San Francisco, and I thought she was the coolest person I had ever seen. She was working in a “head shop” (anybody remember those?) in Nashville and I walked in one day to find her behind the counter, eating her lunch with chopsticks. It was Nashville. No one was eating with chopsticks. That pretty much did it. We became fast (in more than one sense of the word) friends, and we loved to get done up and prance around. I think hanging out with Trudy influenced my sense of what style really means more than any other person I have known. And, I am happy to report, she still has it…that effortless elegance that can be projected so easily. Trudy was not the kind of girl to stay in Nashville, so off she went to San Francisco, where I visited her in 1973. She then moved to New York, had a sojourn in Soho (when it was really interesting), where I also visited and ate whole grains with her at Food, a long since gone landmark. After New York, She ended up in Montreal (where Fred and I visited in 1980), with a great husband and eventually, two children who are now adults. Over the years we have continued to find ways to get together several times. The four of us went on a backpacking trip to the Smoky Mountains in 1982, where we were confronted with a bear stealing our food. They spent time with us in Zipolite three winters ago, and Trudy planned a two stay with us last winter here in San Miguel, with her husband joining her for one of the weeks. She had no idea what she was in for, and neither did I. She was here at the very beginning my health taking a weird turn…right between me knowing something was off to the part where I found out I had to have a hysterectomy. It went from heavy to heavier. What a genuine blessing it was to have this wonderful old friend here during that time.
But, I was doubly blessed in that another forever friend was also around during this year for some nice chunks of time. I met Gail (on the right) in (I think) 1976. At that time we were both living single and looking for adventure. So we did what any liberated, high achieving 30 somethings would do, we started whitewater canoeing together. We started for fun, but…we got really good at it. I think that chapter was one of the most self-defining of my life. I had never felt my own physical power, and it was a wonderful thing. Gail also introduced me to Unity Church, which was the beginning of quite a spiritual journey. I met Fred in 1978, and about that time the canoeing started to play out. I had hit a figurative wall with the paddling, and decided I probably needed to quit while I was still having fun. Gail became quite an entrepreneur and started doing the Tennessee Women’s Career Convention, got very successful in the world of public speaking, and moved to Phoenix. In a “season” or a “reason” relationship, that would have surely been the end of it. But, it wasn’t. We managed to continue to get together. Gail lived in some interesting places, and ended up settling in Santa Fe. But, in the last couple of years, she has been drawn to San Miguel, much to my surprise and delight. It was wonderful to have her around this year. She has the most remarkable sense of humor…the proof of this is that she always gets (and laughs at) my jokes.
It was also kind of marvelous to be around Gail and Trudy at the same time. One night, when I had a brief false hope that my problem was just a benign cyst, Fred took the three of us out for a celebration. It was a bit premature, but fabulous, nevertheless. It was also the last time I had a glass of champagne.
It is a joy to think about old friends, especially the ones who are still around. It takes a long time to recognize the forever ones. But, it’s interesting to see who they turn out to be.

Paddling Tandem

Thirty-four years ago Fred Ellis and I got married. It was the happiest day of my life, with many more happy days to come, and I wake up everyday and feel that I love him a little bit more. Of course we have had good days and problem days, but the problem days are much easier when you have a best friend to share them with. On about our fourth date, I decided that Fred was definitely the guy for me. I am 6 years older than Fred, and he was not quite as ready to settle down, so I had to play it cool. But, I was determined, and two and a half years later he said yes, and we tied the knot in the ballroom of the Hermitage Hotel, the perfect spot for a wedding in Nashville. When we met, I was a teacher and he was a lawyer. We went from that to running a jewelry business together. Most people thought we were totally crazy when we quit our day jobs. And now, we are planning to have a whole new life together in Mexico, and we don’t care if people think we’re crazy.

I moved into Fred’s house a year before we got married. And, being me, I started decorating. Over the years we have transformed a duplex into our single family home, living in it all the while that walls were being knocked down and following after the workers with paint brushes in our hands. This house has been the only real home I have ever had, and it has served us well. However, I realized after our long stay in Mexico this past fall and winter that home is wherever Fred is. We lived in four different places while we traveled and each one of them felt like home to me.

Fred has never let me down. He has never disappointed me. We agree on almost everything and rarely have we had angry moments with each other. We are alike in the important ways, but have very different personalities. Sort of a yin and yang thang. I am very outgoing and impulsive, Fred is more reserved and deliberate. Sometimes when I am being extremely exuberant I catch a glimpse of him watching me. I love it that he’s smiling. When we first started dating, I mistakenly thought Fred was sort of conservative. That was because he always wore a suit and tie. (I had never, ever, dated a guy who dressed like that.) I tried to “behave” myself when we were together. Then I started to notice that the more I was just myself, the more he seemed to like me. And let’s get real…there is no way I could be with someone that I couldn’t just be myself with.

I know that there are some people who probably function better single. And, that’s fine. But, for me, having a wonderful partner to share life with has really been the ticket. I wish that everyone (who is looking for a partner) could find someone as great for them as Fred is for me. Personally, I believe that a long and happy marriage is one of the greatest marks of a successful life.

We are having a “happy” anniversary. Today the carpet got laid in our two upstairs dressing rooms, and now the plumber is here to fix a problem. Several room are either finished, or almost finished. Packing is happening. We’ll go to Margot Cafe tonight to celebrate. We just had avocado toast for lunch and are seriously thinking about taking a little siesta. We are eagerly anticipating the next chapter of our lives together. I feel like I could do anything, as long as I did it with Fred.