Last month husband and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. Each year he plans a two night getaway within driving distance to a small nearby town neither of us has visited but may have passed on our way to another destination. In years past I’ve known where we were headed but for some reason husband wouldn’t share our destination with me. All I knew was to bring a bathing suit and there was nothing on our agenda. I studied the GPS for clues to our final destination. We were nearing Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Sandbridge but passed all of these by. We changed direction a bit and headed due east toward West Point…then Mathews, Virginia.
“We’re going to Mathews?” I asked.
“Yep! Staying at a B & B there. How do you know of Mathews?” asked husband.
“My best friend from elementary school lives here!” This was all I knew about Mathews, Virginia.
Growing up in Richmond, Sue and I were inseparable. We ran the neighborhood, explored nearby woods, sat next to each other in the same third grade class. We had sleepovers, met each others grandparents, exhausted each day with the energies of our friendship. We knew we would always be friends, even did the bloodsister’s bond in her backyard playhouse. But one summer she and her family moved to Rockville, Virginia. Not terribly far away but at that age twenty miles seemed so very far away. I was heartbroken Sue was no longer with me sharing the everyday moments. Different school districts and different towns meant we depended on our parents to keep our friendship alive. And they did! They drove us back and forth on weekends and in the summers…me to her house in the country and hers to mine in the (sort of) city. She had two horses to care for and ride, a farm across the street with animals to visit (translates to a mean pig we would pester until he’d charge us) and at my house we could walk to the stores for ice cream or to shop for records or nail polish. I remember vividly thinking of us as the ‘city and the country mice’ in the book by Rozanne Lanczac Williams.
A best friend during those youthful years is grounding. She was a most dependable ear for harboring my secrets and the non-judgemental cohort willing to stand with me regardless the odds. Sturdy foundations are built with comrades of this sort and I consider Sue and her family a principal layer in the bedrock of my youth.
As husband and I entered Mathews County I texted Sue and told her I was ‘in the neighborhood’ and wondered if she was in town? Because we now communicate through FB I know she enjoys boating many weekends and I doubted she would even be near. As luck would have it, she responded that she and her husband were in town, she lived nearby on Gwynn’s Island about 10 minutes from the inn where we were staying, and she’d love to see me. I looked at my husband with whom I was currently on a 30th wedding anniversary weekend getaway and asked, ‘can we’? And perhaps because we have been together for 30 years he basically said ‘how can we not’? I was ecstatic!♥
That Sunday we found our way over a bridge and through a few winding roads to my friend’s house. Seeing her waiting for me in her driveway was like coming home. Hugging her familiar frame was like grabbing a piece of me from a time and place long ago and far away. But I recognized it and it felt so right and I held on for a good long time. And so did she.
Sue and I laughed and cried over our blended memories and our glasses of wine. The husbands shared beers and thank goodness found a companion in each other because I feel we girls were quickly cocooned in a world of our own. Our memories took us up to high school as we managed to keep in contact until then despite geographic locales. As with many relationships, college began our individual paths and we grew apart from that point. I was amazed at the parallels in our later adult lives and how our husbands shared a few common threads as well. Like peas in a pod, it was as if we’d seen each other the week before yet we calculated it was about 18 years since we’d sat at the same table. Our visit lasted nine hours…it was a great day.
When I asked husband later how he chose Mathews for our getaway spot, he reminded me that I’d mentioned needing to get to the water’s edge and dig my toes in the sand. He heard my call for healing and brought us to a town more therapeutic than anticipated. While poking around the small town of Mathews, my personal foundation was tended to and my framework strengthened. With my husband, I toasted our achievements and planned new adventures as we navigate into our next chapter. Moving forward with new adventures is uplifting! My reunion with Sue, the unexpected gift of our trip, immersed me in the weightlessness of forgotten youth while filling my pockets with the wealth of genuine and everlasting friendship. How lucky we were to come together again, at the water’s edge, honoring our childhood promise to always be friends.
Denise and Sue aboard the Suzie-Q
Chesapeake Bay, VA July 2017