mind_the_gap__12121So it’s a few days before the big Hungary/Slovakia/Poland trip and we’ve received an email from our guides listing suggested equipment.

Rain gear.

Trekking poles.

They even want us to bring hiking boots, for god’s sake.  Because it’s a hiking trip.  The nerve!

When I hike around here, even in steep terrain, I’m so unsophisticated I wear regular old running shoes.  I own a good pair of boots, sure, but they’re so stiff and serious-looking and have been unworn and shoved into the back of many closets for the last 15 years.

I found my boots yesterday.  They are filthy.  There are real live cobwebs involved, and dead spiders in the toes.  I hope like hell they fit.

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IMG_0954 - Version 2Also yesterday, I saw a great good friend I’ve not seen — like my boots — for 15 years.  Because that’s how these things happen, right??

Liz was not just a casual friend.  Liz was in the “best” category of friends.  We worked together.  We played together.  I spent many nights/weekends at her house in my pj’s drinking coffee out of my very own Minnie Mouse mug.  Her home was my home, in every way.  Our husbands were friends loooooong before Liz and I even met.  Which means, of course, that if I didn’t know Liz I wouldn’t have the family I have now.

That kind of great good friend.

And yet, life somehow happened and away we both went.

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As I drove my hours into the city yesterday, to see Liz and her family, I got to thinking about missing years.  How is it that we shove perfectly good boots and perfectly good friends into the back of the closet?  Why are we sometimes so quick to turn our backs and move on with life, to ignore or discard what’s so intrinsically valuable to us?

For 15 whole years.

15 years ago we were still writing 19** on paper checks and terrified of Y2K.  15 years ago I was in my mid-30’s and had no idea my mother was already dying.  15 years ago Liz moved to Montana and I moved to Seattle and Minneapolis and California.  15 years ago her daughters — now in college! — were such babies they hadn’t even started school yet.  15 years ago I was working on my B.A., my husband was changing jobs, my daughter had just left for college, and my son had just gotten braces.

And.  Well.  That’s how we get lost.

Which brings me back to the boots.

I bought my boots in 1999.  I bought them because we were taking our son, understandably irritated by his new mouth-hardware, on a drive across the US of A to hike the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, all culminating in Montana, where we boarded a pontoon boat and followed the Lewis & Clark trail.  We stayed with Liz and her family before getting on the boat.  I remember going to a cabin on a lake.  I remember it was unseasonably hot.  I remember going to Costco for a pie.  I remember riding a horse.

And then 1999 goes blank.

Until yesterday.

Until yesterday, when I found my boots and my friend again.  When everything still fit.  When I did my best to mind this inexplicable 15 year gap.

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What, or who, have you left for too many years?  

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