The world is small. This past weekend, while out for a walk with my amazing family, I watched my past crossing the street, coming right towards me. Where I could have been startled, I felt oddly peaceful, as if this were exactly how life was supposed to go: the people we know randomly appearing throughout it. Here was a dear friend, from my early days in New York, one that I had not spent time with in over a decade, suddenly standing before me on the streets of Rome. Here to celebrate a momentous birthday, she told me another old friend, an even dearer one that had played a starring role in my life for many years was coming as well.
Joan Didion, in her amazing memoir, “The Year of Magical Thinking,” wrote of marriage:
“Marriage is memory, marriage is time…Marriage is not only time: it is also, paradoxically, the denial of time. For forty years I saw myself through John’s eyes. I did not age.”
In marriage yes, but also I think in friendship. I felt this exactly as I looked into my two old friend’s faces last night, which while being beautifully lined with age, still retained all of the memory of what had once been. As we stood in front of the majestic Santa Maria church after a wonderful dinner and celebration, we reminisced about our crazy youth and all the things we used to do, all the trouble we got in and all the trouble we somehow avoided, and I was suddenly eighteen again and everything was still to come. Time stopped, then turned backwards and suddenly my life felt miraculously long and yet so succinct as if to be held in something as small as a bottle cap. And even as I walked back home at the end of an evening that I wanted to go on just a little longer and the shadow of my years started to reach up like weights to pull me back down to now, I could do nothing but smile at all we have done, at all we have been and will continue to be and how that young girl that I was, that seemed so far away from me, is right there under the surface, just waiting for an old friend to bring her out to play, to show me that she is still there, that I am still here.