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Ashokan Reservoir , Olivebridge, NY

When I was an HR consultant, time was money. It's still currency, but traded only for something worthwhile, otherwise greedily hoarded. As I was reminded this weekend when reading the back of a book called Still Life at 80, with age comes clarity. But one of my big questions has always been: When does clarity seep over into rigidity?

Small decisions can have long term consequences. An injury was my reason for shortening gym workouts from an hour to half an hour., but is this the new normal? Out of curiosity and enthusiasm, I used to say yes to so many things. But when invited to join a neighborhood group recently, all I could envision was the soapboxing that happens at all public meetings, and took a pass. Does this mean I'll never again be involved in civic life? Maybe. Is that clarity or rigidity?

Back in the Stone Age, I went to a small all-girls boarding school as a day student. I'm not sure how Sandy and I met and still don't know how we become friends at the awkward age of 14 or so, when you judge people only on which music they listen to and what clothes they wear. She came from a world so different than mine. Her mother wore red lipstick and went to the City for cultural reasons, they used half and half in their freshly ground coffee and whipped butter on their Zabar's bialys. Sandy had a beautiful sleigh bed with satin sheets, she wore only designer jeans, and maybe colored her hair, even in high school. From my perspective of painfully awkward European parents, younger noisy siblings and embarrassing Levi's with an upside down label because they were seconds, her life was a fairytale and I liked nothing more than escaping to it.

We spent a lot of time together; at school in class, hanging around, on the tennis team, weekends too. Likely I'd only relent to going to my house in order to get high unsupervised up on the third floor, where a most magic breeze would suck the smoke out. We talked openly with each other about things we struggled with, having similar desires to sort out this life thing. Hmm, being high might have helped with that too. When she got her retro beige BMW 2002, we went on road trips and I remember her saying "We've got a full tank of gas and a full pack of cigarettes, we can go anywhere."

We remained friends after college, taking a trip to Rio together where we got matching dresses and learned to love Caipirinhas. Then as we moved into lives in different states, eventually had families, we stayed connected, but not in touch.

This past weekend, I went to visit her in Rhinebeck, NY. From the minute we met at the Garden Cafe, time stood still. Or maybe it went backwards, but it was also very much in the present. We might not have been sitting in the smoking chair in Bronxville, NY, but nothing had changed; we talked and talked and talked. We acknowledged that while our mothers were different in appearance and personality, their overbearing influence on us was similar. On the drive home, I realized that while she may be deliberate and tidy while I'm seat of the pants and messy, we see much of life similarly. Time and all the life that has happened changed nothing there.

All that idle time sitting in the smoking chair way back when? It at least in part built this friendship we've unearthed. Alright, maybe I'll join the neighborhood group. And keep watching Yes Man every few years to keep me on the right side...

Sandy at Ashoken on a very cold day


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