Brand building through storytelling

One car, two girlfriends, a weekend of memories

If you do not drive and haven’t hitchhiked since Jim Morrison was singing “Light My Fire,” a trip to Durham, New Hampshire presents a logistical conundrum. When my school held a reunion in Durham, two of us had to ask, “Who will drive me there?” The other person is blind. Me, I’m just phobic. I was briefly, mortifyingly one of those drivers who can’t get to the grocery store without “helpful corrective gestures,” to borrow Dave Barry’s term, from otherwise reasonable folks like you. I may not have the best excuse for breaking into a sweat at the prospect of driving, but I do have the best, wittiest and most altogether delightful chauffeur any vehicularly challenged person could hope for: my friend Anne, the confidante of my mostly bleak adolescence. Because Anne went to school in Dover, she wasn’t part of the hometown festivities. But when I got off the airport bus, there she was to greet me.

I had called from the airport to tell her I might get on an earlier bus than expected. “I’ll phone and let you know,” I promised. Not to worry, she’d arrive early and wait. For an hour. I protested at the thought of her sitting around in a bus terminal, but she insisted she wouldn’t be bored. That’s friendship. My mind drifted back to when we were young. Any day was special then if I knew that Anne would be coming to hole up in my room and listen to Joan Baez on a rinky-dink mono record player that I cherished because it was mine and because, unlike lesser record players, it was housed in a hot-pink suitcase.

As luck would have it, I did make the earlier bus. Which gave us an extra hour to tool around the area and stop for ice cream at the University of New Hampshire Dairy Bar. As a regular reader of this blog, Anne knows about my ice cream fetishand my habit of getting the stuff all over my hands and clothes. I can’t think of a more appropriate way to spend a Friday afternoon in New Hampshire than talking books, writing and life with my longest-standing friend while decorating my pink linen pants with a dollop or two of chocolate chunk.

Rona AnneAll day Sunday Anne ferried me around. She took me to lunch and then to the beach for a rendezvous with my sister and all three nieces. She took us all for ice cream at one of those rustic little joints where half the patrons are barefoot, the lemonade doesn’t come from a can and the scarred picnic tables sit on a lawn so deep and green, anyone under 12 will be showing off with a cartwheel or, like my younger nieces, a race. Anne wouldn’t let me pay for a thing. Her treat.

I felt a twinge of guilt about this. I’ve haggled over plenty of cheques in restaurants with crystal glassware and white linen tablecloths. Picking up the tab was about the power to pay and to duck my turn was to feel beholden. With Anne, I’ve had to unlearn the habit of whipping out my wallet. What happens between us is not about power about shared experience. If my friend wants to give me an experience, it would be ungrateful to refuse.

On Monday morning Anne drove me to the bus. “You’ve been driving me around all weekend,” I said. True enough, but I had no call for a guilt trip. Anne told me what a pleasure it had been to wake up in the morning knowing she’d see Rona today. I’d been thinking along the same lines. When we were both growing up in New Hampshire, we couldn’t see each other every day and made do with hour-plus phone calls that had my parents sighing in frustration. After more than 40 years, we’d achieved what eluded us then. No need to dress up or make a reservation or do anything but talk, two old friends on a radiant summer weekend. What a gift.

Here’s another post about friendship and how it evolves over time. I used to look for friends who were pretty much like me. Now I’m more intrigued by the differences between us.

Posted by Rona

Leave a Reply

Stay up-to-date with Rona.

To see what’s on my mind these days, friend me on Facebook.

Miss my old site?

Visit the archive to find your favorite blog posts and Chatelaine editorials or browse my published articles. Sorry, I’m not blogging anymore.