“You look exactly the same,” Peter said as he opened the door to his family’s home and gave me a hug.
The same. Hardly. So much had changed. Most of it can’t be seen though.
I’d pulled into their driveway just at as the last light was fading from the sky. The lights, pumpkins, and mums in full bloom at the front door, made me feel warm, even as the air was turning chilly.
Mimi appeared in the hallway, smiling and laughing as the words hi-I-am-so-happy-to-be-here-what-a-beautiful-home-you-have tumbled from my mouth. I handed her a bundle of flowers with one hand and hugged with my free arm. Mimi giggled as she glanced towards a room just beyond the hallway.
Her smile and giggle just the same as they were in high school. Her face, her figure, her disposition, the same too.
“The boys are hiding,” she explained. Mimi and Peter have six children- their two oldest are out of college, “the boys” are 9 year old twins. I peeked over Mimi’s shoulder just in time to see a leg slip out of view behind the sofa.
We wandered into the kitchen, the conversation moving easily beyond our hellos to bits about each of our Saturdays, sprinkled with references to the years and gaps since we’d last been in close touch. Mimi reached into the fridge for a bottle of wine and poured each of us a glass, while calling out to “the boys,” “Come meet Lisa.” “Yes,” I added, “I would really like to meet you two…”
Ryan emerged from behind, or maybe under a chair, not exactly smiling, walking slowly towards me. I extended my hand, telling him how happy I was to finally see him. I couldn’t help but notice an enormous bulge under the right side of his shirt, but I kept a straight face as I added “Looks like you are ready for something…” He raised his shirt up just enough to reveal what looked like a water gun with all the bells and whistles. By then, John joined us in the kitchen, and I told the boys that the last time I had seen them they were barely five- it was a Saturday morning- on a soccer field. They were too shy to speak to me when they’d come over to grab their water bottles from their mom’s hands. That day, I’d stopped by to say a quick hello to Mimi, on my way through the town to which she had just moved. Not a visit. More like a sighting.
So much was changing for each of us then. Too much to get into on the sidelines of a soccer field.
Annie, Mimi and Peter’s 17 year old, came down the back stairs to join us in the kitchen. The last time I had seen her, she was a baby. Mimi, Peter and I couldn’t quite remember where that had been. Maybe in Great Falls? Maybe around Halloween? It had been a long time since we all had been together.
We laughed as we stood around the kitchen island, piecing together a few distant memories from when our children were small, our careers were young, and our houses were modest works in progress, furnished mainly with baby equipment. Our reminiscences didn’t hold the twins’ attention for long, so they headed off to find a movie to watch. Before long, Peter joined them, and Annie headed upstairs to do some studying before dinner.
Mimi slid a lasagna into the oven, and our conversation turned serious as she began to ask about my last few years.
So much had changed. I shared bits and pieces. She asked more questions. She offered kind, caring responses. We sighed, paused, laughed some more. I brushed away a tear or two. The smell of lasagna filled the kitchen. Mimi refilled our glasses. We talked some more- about our kids, our faith, our work. Everything and nothing.
So much between us was just the same.
Thank you Two Writing Teachers for nudging those of us who teach writers to make and share our own writing. Every Tuesday- be there.