Five of my good friends are named Barbara, and we are all about the same age. (Is there a "Barbara" born after 1950?) The one from farthest away was in town for her older brother's funeral, and she and her husband Dan came for lunch yesterday before heading back to Los Angeles.
I have known this Barbara for exactly fifty years. We see her and her husband every couple of years, and we are not in touch that often between visits. But within moments of being together, we are back to being as close as when we shared an office all those years ago.
There is something about being with people who knew you "when". Barbara had just gotten married when I met her (not to Dan), and had just left a "career" as a Radio City Rockette. We were so young then, but I regarded her as a sophisticated big sister because her career as a dancer (short though it was) meant she knew how to get around in the world, and I was just an ordinary political science graduate with no serious boyfriend. Back then, if you weren't married or engaged when you graduated from college, it was pretty bad, especially if you weren't trained to be a teacher or a nurse.
Yesterday, the four of us chatted away before and during lunch, laughing a lot because both men are funny. But after lunch, we women stayed in the kitchen while our husbands returned to the sofa.
It was then that the years melted away. Yes, our circumstances have changed. But despite our very different lives, Barbara and I share the same joys and the same concerns, the same worries and the same hopes. My eyes filled with tears when she talked about her brother. And she hugged me as I discussed some of my own challenges.
And then they were off to the airport. I'm not sure when we'll see each other next, but I know that when we do, the years will melt away again.