When Old Friends Call – Answer

By Cheryl Ryan

Two old friends reached out in January. Both were unexpected, and both were inspired by a card. My very first roommate called on a recent Saturday morning. I met her while working at Bonanza Sirloin Pit on my falsified work permit – I wasn’t sixteen yet. She was the day manager, a whopping three years older than me. Our dress code was a black (ridiculously short) skirt, an orange plaid peasant blouse and black felt cowboy hat. It was my first and only waitressing job and it still looms large as my most memorable employment experience.

Probably because it was my first taste of independence and I interviewed and got the job myself. I felt very grown up. Eventually, I moved out with two of the girls I worked with. I went on to be a bridesmaid at their weddings, and as we moved apart we continued to share our growing families through holiday cards. 

Written on the back of one of the last cards I’d sent, Linda, I included my cell number with a note to call sometime. This was probably ten years ago. Recently retired, she got organized at home, found my card, and took me up on my offer. I didn’t pick up. I thought it was junk. Luckily she left a message, and I called back the next day.

She sounded the same. She says she looks different but talking to her, all I could see was the Linda I’d known years ago. We updated each other on the past ten years’ events before getting into the past. We were so young then, and our house was the party many first-time apartment dwellers want. It was crazy how we each remembered different parts of our story, and each memory jogged more memories. Between the two of us, we began to stitch together our shared past. It was so fun to think about those times which I’d nearly forgotten. Our goal is to get together in 2023, and I hope it works out.

The next call came early in the morning from a friend I hadn’t heard from in a while. She was planning to send Valentine’s Day cards this year and was checking my new address. We caught up on the comings and goings of our families and her growing artistic life. 

She was chosen to participate in the celebrated Hearts in San Francisco art program to paint a seven-hundred-pound heart going up for auction (hers is the Dancing in Love heart). It’s an incredible project, and her enthusiasm was contagious. She is also throwing clay (the term used for making pottery) at a local studio. She is growing her for-sale pottery collection, and I’m heading to her studio this week to look at some of her pieces! Her love for art and the creative process was so contagious that it started my day feeling newly energized by her reinvention. You can find Jill’s pottery and other work @floraandsteel on Instagram.

This got me thinking about all those times that I’ve said I would call someone and didn’t. But this year, I’ve got a list of people sitting on my desk to contact. People I last talked to or saw years ago. I love making new friends, but those old relationships are worth keeping up with. No matter how long it’s been since you’ve talked, catching up with old friends transports you right back. It’s also interesting to see what parts of your shared experience each of you remember. And for a person with intermittent memory like me, it’s wonderful to reclaim them with a friend.

Have you reached out or heard from anybody from your past lately? If so, let us know how it goes!!

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  • Reply Gwen Dawkins March 10, 2023 at 6:27 am

    Cheryl, What a great post. It’s always wonderful to reconnect with old friends — and something I want to get better at doing. I especially love the Bonanza Sirloin Pit job and attire description.

    • Reply zestandplomb March 10, 2023 at 7:31 am

      Haha it was quite a look 🙂

      • Reply Janine March 14, 2023 at 9:17 am

        This is so lovely and one of my favorites! Your writing style is a gift and although I’ve never been to the Bonanza Sirloin Pit, I feel transported back in time with you. One of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou is “buckle close friends to your soul”. Thank you for the gentle reminder to pick up my phone and do just that.

        • Reply zestandplomb March 14, 2023 at 9:32 am

          Awe thank you Janine! I always appreciate your comments. I didn’t know this quote and love it!

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