Andrea here, As we head into the holiday season, with its festive gatherings replete with oodles of sweets treats and bubbly libations, I find myself thinking not only of all the scrumptious ways in which I can consume chocolate (okay, okay, I tend to think of that in any season) but also of the far more important meaning of the season. It's a time to reflect on the gifts we have in our lives. And one of the gifts for which I'm most grateful are my friendships.
Friendships lie at the heart of the books I write. My plots deal with solving a conundrum—usually one that starts with a murder—in order to ensure that Good triumphs over Evil. But one of the major threads that weaves through all the stories is how friendship—love, loyalty, trust, camaraderie—is key to giving my main protagonists the strength and courage to overcome daunting challenges and solve the crime. They can’t do it alone . . .
But I am digressing slightly from my main topic, since what sparked my musing today is not fiction, but real life.
Just recently, I went away on a long weekend with my college roommates. We’ve known each other since the first day of freshman year. It’s been a long time since then—don’t ask!— and while so many things have changed in our lives, what is an elemental source of joy that we are still the best of friends.
We have stayed connected throughout the years, and though some periods passed in a blur as work and family consumed much of our time, the bond never changed. Then, during the pandemic, we began doing bi-weekly Zoom calls. They tended to go on for close two hours as it felt like we were back in our dorm sharing all the myriad ups and downs of daily life. That’s when we hatched the idea of a “Girl-Getaway.” The first one was last April, just when the world was beginning to open up and it felt safe to gather in person. We chose an AirBnb house overlooking the river on the scenic upper Hudson Valley, which was within doable driving distance for all of us. And we had so much fun that we did again two weekends ago, just before Thanksgiving. (Alas, our fifth came down with a stomach flu and missed the fun.)
I’m still smiling. What with the way that everything in world seems to change with head-spinning speed these days, it’s such a delight to have these enduring friendships in my life. A recent male friend—slightly puzzled—asked “what do you do all day?” Well, the short answer is that we talk and we laugh! We all like to cook, so it starts with breakfast. We always do some advance planning and bring essentials for the kitchen with us. So out come the bagels from a special bakery in Brooklyn, apples and artisanal cheeses from Vermont, smoked salmon, capers . . . I bring special coffee beans and my grinder. (And wine, of course. But that’s for evening, when we’re sitting by the cozy wood-burning stove.)
Then there are walks along the beautiful Hudson River, gabbing a mile a minute thought our pace might be a tad slower. It’s a great area for interesting museums, so we always plan a visit. And then there are discussions about what we are going to cook for our Saturday night dinner. (Since we’re all arriving after a long drive on Friday, we always go out to dinner at a nice restaurant.)
During our April, visit to the area, we discovered an amazing market near our rented house with an amazing array of fresh produce, seafood, and all manner of gourmet treats. It’s one of the reasons we went back to the same area again. We decided on a shrimp stir fry because the veggies looked so fabulous. Shopping done, we uncorked a nice Sauvignon Blanc and set to work chopping . . .
What did we did talk about as we sat around the kitchen table? Any and everything! We’re all avid readers, so we talked about the books we’ve been reading and traded recommendations. We talked about family . . . work . . . what makes us happy . . . what makes us worried. What’s amazing is that we pick up as if we were just in our dorm room the night before, no matter that years have passed since that time. It’s indescribably wonderful to be able to share what I'm thinking and feeling with people I’ve known and loved for much of my life.
It’s an old adage—some might call it a platitude—but I find that sharing with friends truly does lighten the weight of worries on my shoulders and is a comfort and a joy. So as I reflect about all the things in my life for which I am thankful, my friendship with my college BFFs is right up at the top of the list.
So, what about you? What are some of the elemental things for which you are grateful? And do you have special friends—old or new; two or four-footed—with whom you share a special bond?