Friends Don’t Let Friends Say No to Lunch
Originally published on The Bucket
When the invitation came to meet two friends for lunch, the excuse was right on the tip of my tongue. Not the truth, mind you. Instead some conjured-up project deadline. A hair appointment. A family commitment perhaps. Anything that could conceivably get in the way of me joining them. That’s what I was thinking.
Fortunately, my second thought was better. My Tuesday routine can wait. The paragraph on my latest essay that I’ve been wrestling with for days isn’t going anywhere. The laundry will get washed. The bills will get paid. Sure, if my friends had suggested meeting for dinner, when the day was winding down, when all the to do’s were done, that would have been more convenient. But lunch it is.
The real truth is that I miss my friends. Once upon a time, we’d get together almost every day. Rain or shine, standing there at the appointed neighborhood stop, we’d wait for the school bus to shuttle our kids away and then bring them back again. In between the waiting, we’d exchange bits of news and comfort, a camaraderie of motherhood that served to anchor the endless activity of our days that blurred into weeks into months into years. But, as we now know, the activity was not endless, Our kids are all off on their own journeys, near and far, working and studying, living and learning.
Over the years, the three of us have managed to stay in touch, to keep our friendship going with an occasional dinner, walk, or yes, lunch. As we take our seats at a table in a nearby restaurant, we’re more interested in catching up than in reading the menu as our patient waitress quickly discovers.
My friend who spent the winter in Florida happily fills us in on her adventures, the golfing and the boating, the new friends she’s met and the new activities she’s tried. And, of course, we’re eager to hear news about her daughter and her son and all the latest developments in their young lives.
My other friend experienced a different kind of winter. Last fall, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Her days were spent commuting to Boston for chemotherapy and then to New York City for radiation therapy. But that was then. Now it’s springtime and she’s sitting here with us, remarkably as lively and optimistic as always.
My news of the winter is our big house renovation and the progress on my book. Other than that, my husband and I are both working much the same as we always did, the weekday routine punctuated by breaks on the weekend unless, well, we have to work.
Throughout our lunch together, between the bits and pieces of conversation shared with the genuine love and concern we have for each other, I detect a new theme. An awakening. Though we come to each other on this day from golf courses and medical centers and books and reimagined houses, there’s a new common denominator between us. A new awareness. That the road isn’t as endless as it once seemed all those years ago.
There’s a shared sense at our table that it’s time to bring a new consciousness to bear on how we’re spending our days, how we’re designing our moments, on what we’re planning to embrace and what we’re going to leave behind. It’s time to get living.
And what will that more purposeful life look like for us? Each of us will have to answer that for herself, for what satisfies and gratifies one tends to be very different from another. But it’s worth thinking about. It’s time.
As I leave my friends and step back into the comfort of my routine, my thoughts are still at lunch. What is that life for me? My husband and I are so busy working, no doubt necessary at this point to pay for the renovation. But the house will be finished soon. Then what? We’re so deeply entrenched in our workday routines that a Tuesday lunch with friends is something so alien to me, something so out of the ordinary, something that might easily have been passed up in favor of work. Fortunately, it wasn’t.
I said yes to the lunch. And maybe that’s a step in the right direction. Maybe that’s an acknowledgement that what my friends and I are realizing rings true.
It’s time to get living.
Photo by Maddi Bazzocco