My husband and I went out to dinner the other night with a friend we hadn’t seen since he was in a groomsman in our wedding over thirty years ago. We were a little nervous about it, since the friend now has a new wife we have never met, and we weren’t sure we would have anything in common with him after so many years. But he and his wife were passing through St. Louis on their way home from Florida and wanted to meet for dinner, so of course we said yes. After all, at one time this man was a close enough friend to be included in our wedding party, so we were willing to meet and hope that we could reconnect.
Happily, we had a great time, telling the “remember when?” stories, catching up on each other’s lives and getting to know his new wife. (They were even nice about it when I accidentally knocked my water glass into my wine glass and the wine spilled all over my husband’s shirt…luckily, I was drinking white.) It may have been over thirty years since we’d seen each other, but it didn’t feel that way. It was nice to realize that we still enjoyed each other’s company and that he was, essentially, the same person we’d been friends with back in our college days.
At a time in my life when so many things feel new (and often a bit scary), it’s reassuring to be reminded of all the things that haven’t changed. During last year’s vacation, my daughter and I went on a horseback ride. I was lucky enough to have a horse when I was a teenager and young adult, but I was nervous because I hadn’t ridden in years. Yet as soon as I settled in the saddle, the old skills kicked back in. I found I still knew how to guide the horse, balance my weight as we went up and down steep hills and calm the horse when she startled. I still knew how to ride.
When my kids were home, there just wasn’t time for many of my old interests and hobbies, or keeping in touch with old friends. But the upside of being an empty-nester is having the time to do some things just because I want to. I took piano lessons as a child, so I got a new piano and now I’m beginning to play again. I’m writing fiction again. I’m reconnecting with old school friends on Facebook, and sometimes in person, and I enjoy their company just as much as I ever did. I feel as if I’m discovering parts of myself that I thought were gone for good, and I love that. By reconnecting with activities and people I used to enjoy, I’m also reconnecting with….me. And that’s turning out to be a good thing.