Friday, July 16, 2010

The miracle of friendship

Old friends, Michael and Mary Wilson, arrived unexpectedly from Moab, Utah, on their way to sea kayak in Alaska the night before Donald, Nga and Tai left Wednesday morning.

I had written Michael and Mary a letter six months or so ago and sent them photos I took of them and their children in 1978 in Park City, Utah, where we were good friends nearly 40 years ago. I met them in 1971 when Michael and I were on ski school together. They taught me Transcendental Meditation. I left Utah in 1973, but would return over the next couple of years and always stay with them when I did. They were people precious to me, but life intervened in a multitude of ways.

For two years after my divorce I traveled from Park City, to Sun Valley, Idaho, then to the Olympic Peninsula, down to California and then back again. I would work six weeks in Park City, stay with Michael and Mary, and then head off again.

Eventually I spun off my circular route and went to Maharishi International University, or MIU, in Fairfield, Iowa, to become more involved with the TM movement. I was seeking something "more," but wonder if I couldn't have found that more in Park City, the way they did. But as we agreed, it appeared that wasn't my life path.

Eventually I returned to California and visited them again in 1978, when I took the photos. I never saw them or talked to them again after that, until this week, 32 years later, with many lifetimes and experiences in between.

When they drove up the driveway I was in awe that they were actually here. They had called on their way through to catch the plane in Seattle, allowing for a day to spend with us, but not really knowing how it would turn out. After all, we hadn't talked in all these years. Mary said she had my address information in her address book and that's when they decided to see if it would work. They arrived to much fanfare, ate dinner with mom, Donald, Nga, and Tai.

We decided we would go camping at Sawmill Flats, up Chinook Pass on Wednesday after Donald left.  Thursday afternoon they headed over the pass, enjoying their first sight of Mt. Rainier on the way to Seattle.

While camping we began to catch up on the intervening 30 years, although their first night on the patio we did the "nut shell." I quipped, "Yeah, a nut in a shell." Mary told me that she had thought I would be in their life always...and now we had 30 more years to catch up.

The guys fly fished and Mary and I talked some more. We ate tuna Michael caught in Mexico, along with the vegis from the garden that Mary weeded for me for two hours while I got the trailer ready. We drank wine and talked and laughed.

It was a rare experience. It's not often that someone from so long ago can show up and instantly feel the camaraderie. I enjoyed them as much or more than I ever did. Loving them. I felt the familiarity, their spirit, their personality, so much like it was then, unchanging, even though all around us had changed.

I saw in them the young people I once knew and loved, now with a few more aches and pains and health issues and parents dying and kids getting raised, and their grandchildren born. They have traveled the world extensively. Mary has traveled in India several times, they have hiked around MountBlanc in France, spent another month in France, traveled to Bali, Nepal, Italy, Greece, Mexico and other places. It is hard for me not to envy, but we all get something different. They earned it and have been blessed by it.

Now it is time, Mary says, for her to stay at home for awhile, at the oasis they created in Moab on a piece of property fed by a spring, allowing them to create ponds and gardens.

As they prepared to leave yesterday Mary was walking to their camper. She turned and said, "This was incredible." Considering all the incredible experiences she has surely had, that spoke volumes. And I agreed. I can't wait to see them again.

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