MY LIFE - Reconnect with some old friends

MY LIFE - Reconnect with some old friends

It is said that one can never be too rich or too thin. To that I would add "... or have too many friends." Old friends, new friends, bosom buddies, bowling buddies, and deep-down-know-where-the-bodies-are-buried kind of friends, I can't imagine life without them. I have done my best to maintain those friendships all my life, but stuff happens and people sometimes drift away so gradually that before you know it they are gone, leaving nothing but a memory and a nagging sense of loss.

To my amazement and inexpressible delight within the last few months I have re-established contact with not one, but three old and dear pals.

My old partner in crime, Yvette, was the first. Never too far, but just out of reach for years, we exchanged birthday cards signed "A friend forever," and greetings over the holidays, but never in person. And then about six weeks or so ago, after an exchange of email messages, we were on the phone several times for what seemed like hours.¬?And then she was here, in my home having lunch, laughing about old times, and catching up on what had been going on in our respective lives.

It was just a week or two afterward that I phoned my friend Pat. We had met in high school, two fish-out-of-water misfits from parochial school backgrounds tossed into Cumberland High School among kids who had known each other all their lives. We laugh now when we talk about what an adjustment it had been. I reminded her of an incident that still makes me laugh when I think about it.

We were having lunch in the school cafeteria, sitting at a table full of girls when Pat suddenly shouted in alarm, "Phyllis, you're eating meat!"

Poor Phyllis, who almost lost her grip on the meaty sandwich in question, looked at Pat as if she had lost her mind.

"But it's Friday," Pat exclaimed, to which Phyllis replied, "But I'm not Catholic." Raised and educated in a Protestant-free environment, this was a first for both of us.

Pat and I had drifted after high school, reconnected after we were married and stayed friends for years when our children were young, and then drifted again. When I phoned her this time it was just like when I had called to reconnect 50 years earlier. "Why don't you come over," I asked back then and again now. She asked "when?" and I replied "how about right now?" Both times she got in the car and came and both times we just picked up where we had left off years before, a true mark of real friendship.

And then just this week it was my friend Jeanne Sarreault, now Peloquin.

Her father owned the garage next door to where I grew up in Manville. He also owned the house where I lived, and for a time in the very earliest years lived two floors down from us, so Jeanne and I had known each other pretty much our whole lives.

She grew up on the other side of town, on Gousy Street, so we mostly hung out together during the summer months when she spent time at her father's garage.¬?We used to wash the windows on a semi-regular basis using Bon Ami soap, and were paid with Zero bars from the candy counter in the office, and ice cold Cokes from the big red Coca-Cola machine that took nickels back then and had a handle that you pulled outward, the tub would rotate, and you lifted the little door, reaching in and lifting the glass bottle out of the freezing cold water.¬?Cheap wages, but we were somewhere between 10 and 11 years old, so it worked for us.¬?We could wash the windows, we could hang out in the pigeon coop that was attached to one side of the garage (where I was once thrilled to have a pigeon land on my shoulder until it pooped right down the front of my blouse), but for some reason we could never understand there was absolutely no way in the world he would ever let us pump gas for the customers out front, no matter how much we begged.

When Jeanne reached junior high school age she was bundled off to the Saint Anne Academy in Marlboro, Mass., where she completed the rest of her schooling.¬?We saw each other on and off after that, but again, the drifting began. I got married.¬?She got married to a guy who worked for the Border Patrol up in New York, and eventually down in Miami.

Sporadic letters kept us marginally in touch, and then just last week, email messages.¬?She sent me a photo of the old garage on Railroad Street.¬?I took a series of photos of familiar places around town and sent them to her.¬?Old memories were resurrected, old stories shared, and although she had been gone for what seemed like a thousand years, she wondered if anyone in the village (as Manville is often called) would even remember her.

It is with her blessing that I am writing this now, letting old family, friends, classmates, etc. know that she is alive and well and now living near her daughter in Kentucky.¬?She would love to hear from you and can be reached at jeanne.peloquin@yahoo.com.

There are few pleasures in life that compare to rediscovering and reconnecting with old friends.¬?If you remember Jeanne, treat yourself to this one.

Rhea Bouchard Powers is a writer from Cumberland.