Friday, April 15, 2011

"Silver and Gold"

“Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.”


            Recently, I chatted on the phone with my friend, Suzanne. Once a next door neighbor, we’ve shifted from daily visits to bi-weekly marathon phone conversations. If we’re lucky, we’ll get together once every month or so.
           I consider Suzanne a “new” friend, the silver in my life. Nineteen summers ago, Suzanne and her family rented the house next door. When I saw that she and her husband juggled a toddler and a six-year-old, I grabbed a huge blanket, tons of toys, and some snacks and introduced myself. We’d had neighbors cycle through this rental for several years, but from my first conversation with Suzanne, I knew we’d be friends.
            I still tease her about letting us take her daughter with us the very next day to my son’s birthday party at my in-law’s home. The party kept hitting snags, and I kept calling Suzanne with explanation on why we still had her daughter. Finally, I asked, “Aren’t you worried? We’re basically strangers to you, and we’ve had Felicity all day.”
            “But I know where you live!” Suzanne’s quipped back in her distinctive British way.

Liz and Suzanne Christmas 2009

            And that’s how our friendship began. Our children rotated between our homes daily. As couples, we’d eat meals together, stay up all night playing games, or just talk for hours. Although David has family in town, it was Phil and Suzanne we turned to when our cars stranded us, our lawn mower imploded, or I became bedridden with a series of ear infections.
            Our childhoods dove-tailed in a military up-bringing and gave us common ground immediately. Drilled on keeping high standards for housekeeping and yards, our kids would later comment that they felt equally comfortable in each home because of the similarities.
            Suzanne’s wry humor and tough spirit support me through the hardest days. I look forward to the next stage of our lives as our children start on their own paths. Our friendship has survived divorce, job changes and moves. It’s grown stronger through shared adversities and sweeter through years of laughter shared over glasses of wine.

“And Gold”

            She sat in the cafeteria, both arms in casts, unable to eat!
            “Lisa, this is Liz. She’s going to help you today,” my fourth grade teacher, Ms. Tidwell, introduced us to a lifelong friendship.
            Our world in fourth grade relied upon phone calls and spend-the-nights. In fifth grade, my neighborhood school opened, and Lisa and I no longer saw each other daily; but when seventh grade dumped us back into the same school, our friendship blossomed. Even Lisa’s move to the Valley didn’t keep us from writing long letters or visiting when her family made a trip to San Antonio. I even spent a week one summer visiting Lisa and her family. That’s when I learned I cannot play golf or tennis! But I also learned that friendship can last forever.

Liz and Lisa by David Chapman

            High school shifted to infrequent phone calls and occasional letters, but when I received my acceptance from Texas A&M, I wrote Lisa before anyone else because we’d talked years ago about attending the same college. Her answering letter informed me of her own acceptance, too. We’d be a pair of Aggies!
            We made a huge mistake of rooming together one semester. Our golden friendship almost tarnished because of immature expectations and youthful thoughtlessness. Fortunately, we matured enough to sidestep old hurts. We stand together for all the major events in life: graduations, weddings, birthdays, illnesses, losses, deaths.
            Lisa’s a doctor now, busy with her practice. When she’s not at work, she’s caring for her parents. Almost every week, she calls me from her car for a chat as she drives from her office to her parents’ home for her evening visit with them. We may not see each other for many months at a time, but when we’re together, it’s like we’ve never parted.

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

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