Sunday, 21 June 2015

I had a very curious

experience yesterday. It should have been ordinary enough but it was both disturbing and exhilarating.
I went into a house I had not been into for almost fifty years - and it had not changed.
I was on my way home down a street I often travel along when I saw a friend of more than fifty years. She lives in a house that was her childhood home. I went in and out of it several times in the early years of our friendship. I had not been into since then. 
It was not because we were no longer friendly or because the house had changed hands or any of a multitude of other possible reasons. Her mother had died when she was in her early teens. She went on living there with her father while she was at school. She went on to university, moved away when she got a job.
I moved too. I moved in my teens and it might have been the end of the friendship because we didn't have social media and all the other means of contact then. Somehow it wasn't. It is one of those friendships where, each time we saw one another, we picked up the strands where we had left off and knitted another few rows. We saw each other in other places - at university, in the library, at writing events, and at choir practice.
Recently we caught up in the local bookshop and she said, "Do come in when you're passing. If the car's in I'm probably home." 
I have tried several times but she has been out. She has been caring for an older friend who had a serious road accident. He lives in the "granny flat" at the back.  
But yesterday her car was turning into the driveway as I came down the street. I stopped.  
I went into the house with her. It was just as I have always remembered it. Nothing had changed. I even looked to see if something I remembered was still there - and it is. 
The house is not a museum. It is not a monument to her parents. It is a house which is very definitely lived in. It is untidy. There are cats. The piles of books have changed shape. There are more tottering piles of books in what was her father's study. Her music is still scattered across the piano and on the floor next to the piano stool. There was a mug draining on the sink in the kitchen. It was the mug she used the last time I walked into the house. It is faded now but the "hippie" flowers are still there. I gave it to her.
I had to go home or the Senior Cat would worry it was getting too late for me to be out on the pedals. She had to go out again and had to do some baking to take with her.  I left reluctantly. It was not nostalgia I felt. It was something much better than that.
It was a brief visit and a long one. Almost fifty years long. 

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