Posts Tagged ‘visits’

One of the best things about living in Boston? It’s a place people actually want to visit. Moreover, people just end up here sometimes, for conferences or other events. Which works out well for J and me, since the sight of a familiar face these days is manna from heaven.

Our friend Matt, who works with Teach for America in Washington, D.C., recently landed in Cambridge for a conference. Before coming, he sent J and me a message: did we want to meet up, walk around Harvard, have lunch? We did. And despite the fact that the Hyatt Regency is completely, absurdly inaccessible to public transport, resulting in a lot more walking than we’d planned on (and we’d planned on some), we had a rich, wonderful afternoon.

We had not seen Matt in well over two years, since he graduated from ACU and began teaching middle schoolers in D.C., but we’ve kept up through the miracle (and, at its best, I believe it is a miracle) of Facebook. And even though we were more peripheral, always-glad-to-see-you-but-we-never-hung-out-often friends than close friends in Abilene, we still savored every moment of our long, looping walk around Cambridge.

We strolled up Memorial Drive along the river (already dotted with a few sailboats), into the busy, colorful chaos of Harvard Square. We had lunch at John Harvard’s Brew House, followed by a stroll around the Yard, a stop at Ben & Jerry’s, and a trip to the Coop for the requisite T-shirt buying. And the whole time, we talked.

About goofy stuff and real stuff. About moving, about cities, what it’s like to live somewhere so totally different from Abilene or Texas or the South. About churches and community and friends; about long-distance relationships (we’ve done it; he’s doing it). About sports and food and people we all know; about Matt’s students and J’s therapy work and my writing/editing/blogging gigs.

We shared the stuff of our lives, the stuff you don’t get to share over Facebook or via email, and enjoyed the real, tangible, irreplaceable experience of being in each other’s presence. Much as I treasure all the ways of keeping in touch with far-away friends, you absolutely can’t beat a solid few hours to walk and talk and just be together.

The gab-fest continued that evening, when Matt hopped on the Red Line and joined us for a game night in Quincy (which entailed the longest, craziest game of Pictionary I’ve ever played). And amid all the laughter and jokes and haphazard sketches, I was conscious of a deep sense of gratitude.

Gratitude for old friends who care enough to keep in touch, who listen when you tell them about your life, and are willing to share theirs with you. Gratitude for the hand of fate or God or whatever it is, whatever puts people in the same place for a while and then causes their paths to re-cross later. Gratitude for crisp spring days, for laughter that makes your eyes crinkle up at the corners, for deep, funny, heartfelt conversations and equally deep listening. Grateful for the gift of time with people I love.


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