Privilege Blog

No Balls In The House, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:27am

My best friend was in town this week.

We truly met when our second children (my last, her second of five) were not much more than a year old. We’d encountered each other a year prior, when I walked past her house on my way to the park, but I’d been too startled and standoffish to make friends on the street. Silly me.

Once connected, we were inseparable. We raised our children together, even though she stayed home and had 3 more kids while I went back to work. My friend has an uncanny ability to make adventure out of the mundane, to keep going when others (I mean me) are dropping like flies. We’d talk on the phone every morning as I commuted, and laugh. She’s funny.

A while back, I can’t remember exactly when, she and her family moved to Belgium. I visited her once. Two years ago, they moved back to the USA, but to New Jersey. I visited her once. We still talked on the phone, as often as possible.

Her father died last year, and it was time for her mom to sell their house and move to a smaller place. My friend came out to help in the packing. But she spent one day with me.

When she arrived on my doorstep, I said, “So, what do you want to do? Go to the movies? Watch stupid TV?” She’s never away from her kids, I wondered if she wanted a break. “No,” she said, “Let’s just do what we always did. Let’s have your regular day. Any errands need doing?”

So we worked. She helped me move furniture. She powered through the acres of used boxes in the garage, cutting and twining the cardboard for recycling. She drove me to Safeway, (we bought Malteasers and gummy bears and turkey and avocado, all for good reason) and to the charity store to drop off donations.

When, finished, we sat on my sofa, I felt my green yard behind my back. The light in the room seemed heightened and familiar. My friend ran her fingers through her hair, taking out the pins and putting them back in. “Do you remember,” we said. “How we would steal a moment of quiet, hear the children playing in the other rooms, and how J. would bounce a ball into the living room? Do you remember how we always told him, ‘No balls in the house?'”

In that moment I swore, just for the smallest possible time, any smaller and it wouldn’t have happened, that I heard my children’s voices in the hall. From the other room.

I have no explanation. Maybe long time relationships carry memories with them, memories that only come back when the two of you are together. That’s what I envy in long marriages.

Stay friends with people. They hold your life in their hair.

59 Responses

  1. So true about friends. Unfortunately, in the last three years one of my longest and best has fallen off the radar. I miss her.

  2. What a delightful post Lisa. I have friends like the one you have and I do treasure them.

    1. Ah yes. Well put. But my friend is SO much better at laundry than I am. I can only hope to provide moral support:).

  3. So true. My best friend since I have known since I was eleven is coming over to stay for a week at the end of May. She now lives in South Africa. We many not see each other for long periods but it seem like yesterday. We just seem to understand each other and we have so much shared history.

  4. Oh yes I hear those voices loud and clear! We used to say playing with balls is an outside activity!
    True friends are hard to come by and if perchance like you you have been fortunate enough to meet them you absolutely MUST keep those precious lines of communication active and alive…
    My BFF has been in my life ince we were in grade 3 and we think so much alike and often buy the same clothes unbeknownst to each other…
    your post has a lovely and poignant tone to it today Lisa…thank you!

  5. I once had to tell my kids (while at work) “no rollerblading in the bathroom “. Don’t ask.

    1. @Jane, Thank you. They take work! We’ve had our rough times, they are now part of what makes us best friends.

  6. What an evocative post! I have a very good friend who lives across the street. We brought up our kids together. We used to “cook double” – about once a week, one of us would cook twice as much and bring dinner across to the other one. We still send food back and forth, but she’s not cooking regularly as both of her kids are out of the house. We’ve always walked a lot. We walked our way through the sudden end of her perfect marriage several years ago – it turns out her husband is gay. I went out at dawn a few months ago to buy the deli chicken soup her dying dog loved, and sat with her as she tried to feed her through a syringe. And I reconnected through facebook with my childhood best friend, and even after being out of touch for 30 years we went right back to friendship.

    1. @Marie, You must have been such a comfort to her when her marriage ended. I can only imagine. And double cooking! My friend and I would just feed the kids together before the fathers came home:).

  7. Beautiful. I feel the same about long marriages and long friendships. It even matters in doctors and bankers. We flourish among people who share our history, our memories, our growth, and who can mirror it back to us.

  8. I have a number of friends like that, unfortunately all but one have moved far away so we seldom see each other. Unlike some of the others who have commented, I have no friends from my childhood, but do have a first cousin who is like a sister and that’s who I have the most shared memories with.

    I agree about envying that in long marriages, shared history, shared children, etc.

    1. @kathy, I don’t have childhood friends either – college is the first time I started to keep friends for life. I have my siblings – and we are all close. I adore them, actually, and that probably obviated the need for many new friends over time.

      A cousin could be the same.

  9. My close friends are everything to me. We have lots of stupid in jokes going back 20 years and rely on each other for everything. I am always deeply suspicious of women who boast about having no female friends, like that’s somehow a good thing or superior.

    Glad you’ve started gardening, Better late than never!xxxx

    1. @Faux Fuchsia, Better late than never! I’ve been doing it for a while – just getting a little avid these days:). And I see your lunches with friends on your blog and I’ve guessed you were one who valued loyalty.

  10. Hello Lisa

    What a delightful visit. Just being normal and working on mundane chores and chatting indicates the closeness of your friendship. I have a few dear friends from my single days and we laugh and remember and often re-tell the same stores each time we meet. Sometimes we just have to say one word and we go into convulsions of laughter.

    A beautiful post.
    Have a great weekend


    1. @Helen Tilston, Thank you very much. You too. I think the retelling of the stories, which we do too, is so much a part of building the friendship and the sense of lives lived.

  11. Beautiful. Tears in my eyes. And my kids are still home. I will keep saying yes to friendship – always learning from you.

  12. A friend that comes to visit and does errands and cleans out the garage is a friend for life. I can just imagine the two of you sitting back with your shoes off, legs crossed on the sofa, eating Malteasers and laughing. What a great day!

    1. @Loretta, It was. And thanks for telling me my own story back to me in your words, it’s another layer of friendship and I appreciate it.

  13. When I’m making time to see my friends it sometimes seems like too much trouble. Afterward it’s always worth it.

    1. @RoseG, Interesting. Never seems like too much trouble to me before, sometimes feel tiring after! Although not this visit.

  14. Stay friends with people. They hold your life in their hair.

    (I trust that was call and response. It could only have been call and response.)

  15. I don’t often wear mascara but I have(had)some on now. You just made tears spring to my eyes.

    xo J

  16. Such a beautiful post. I have a few friends like that, one or two from before college, a few gathered over various decades. We are all scattered to the four winds now, but when we come together it is as if we have never been apart.

  17. I so deeply regret having let go of numerous friendships because of our many moves. I kick myself, and then the guilt kicks me, too, keeping me from picking up the phone. Thanks for the reminder, Lisa!

  18. Oh, those friends! My best friend and I tell each other the same stories over and over and over and still laugh and laugh and laugh.

    My 83 year old mother still has one 3rd grade BFF left.

  19. Last year I was fortunate to attend 2 weddings in the UK, one bride was the daughter of a friend I’ve known for 40 years and the other bride’s mother and I started primary school together, 53 years ago! Even tho I live on the other side of the world and we don’t see each other very often, when we do the years just fall away and I still consider them my dearest friends, altho I’m blessed with great friends here too.

  20. Words fail. I love this post from the fear of making friends met on the street (me, too, once when I was young) to reminding me of the friend who came to visit me in Florida and when I asked what she wanted to do said “I want to know where you grocery shop and what your library branch is like; I want to see you in context.” And then, to hearing your children’s voices in the hall. So dear.

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