I had breakfast with an old friend yesterday, and by old, I mean my age. She was a college roommate at Santa Clara, the first university I went to straight out of high school.She became known as Big Meg, which was unfortunate, because there was and is nothing big about her. She is 5”5’, slim and athletic, but we had to distinguish her somehow from Little Meg, who was maybe 5” and might have weighed more than Big Meg herself. She was in town, visiting from Seattle and got in touch. Out of the 4 days, between our family and work commitments, we found 90 minutes to see each other, early on a Monday morning.
I would like to say that we hadn’t changed a bit. Isn’t that what you are supposed to say about a woman you haven’t seen in 15 years? But the truth of the matter is that we have. We might look youngish for our 40 years, but the restaurant was flooded with early morning sunshine and every line on our faces was highlighted, along with our crows feet and the sunspots on the backs of our hands. A darker café would have been more forgiving, but I was glad to be where we were. I think it made it easier to pick up where we left off, with the vulnerable honesty that came naturally when we were 19 years old. The bright light of day seemed to say, “Here you go; there’s no room to hide; just let it out.”
So we jumped right in and I asked her to tell me her story, the roads she’s taken since she left college, where she’s been and what she’s done. And I told her a little bit about mine as well. After our initial start, we spent very little time reminiscing, which I was so grateful for and in some ways, surprised by. We didn’t rehash the past, gossip about old friends, or relive our ‘glory days,’ because they weren’t. No matter what is going on in our lives now, the present moment is our greatest gift.
Not dwelling on our past allowed us to move right on to our presents and futures. Although our life circumstances are very different, it looks like we are both headed in the same direction – to find greater purpose and significance in the work that we do. We’ve both come to the edge of a cliff. But whereas Meg is leaping, because she wants to fly, I am hanging on to the edge, hoping that the universe hands me a parachute. I think our two approaches have everything to do with the stories we’ve been telling ourselves our whole lives. Meg shared that she always thought she was destined to do something significant, that she would make an impact on the world somehow, while I have never imagined that my influence would extend beyond the boundaries of my own home. But apparently, like it our not, we are both destined to go into freefall here in our 4oth years. It’s comforting to know that I am not the only one in flight.
And in that moment across that sun-drenched breakfast table, I did see the girl I used to know and she hadn’t changed a bit. She was still the kind, warm, authentic person I met and fell in love with all those years ago on the 11th floor of a freshman dorm. She still has the quick smile, the easy laugh and the self-confidence to be honest within the space of a few minutes. That kind of vulnerability is rare. Most people won’t be that intimate with you over the course of two years, much less a two-course meal.
We hugged as we left each other and made all the usual promises to keep in better touch, but the funny thing is, I think we actually meant them. After more than 20 years, we found ourselves meeting again in the same place we did the first time, emotionally if not geographically. We are leaving the security of a warm nest to discover our place in the larger world, to find out who and what we are meant to be, to bring our dreams to life.