Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Making Old Friendships New

Cheri is coming to town.

Cheri, who lived behind the house we moved to when I was in sixth grade, Cheri who was my college roommate, Cheri who was my bridesmaid.

In the early years, we walked home from school together (except when it rained and her mom picked us up), went to the park and went to the pool. We considered our options for the future. She wanted to be a humanist-scientist (a term I think she made up), I wanted to be a writer.

We both wore the clunky desert boots that were in fashion – and they seem to be back, as I saw a pair in a shoe store window three days ago – and we wore cranberry skirts and sweaters, the hot color of the moment.

In high school, we walked home from school together (except when it rained and her mom picked us up), went to the park and the pool and played canasta for hours. Days. Weeks, even, in the summer. And we continued to consider our options for the future.

In college, we roomed together in a dorm for my junior year and her senior year. I remember discussing boys, getting drunk together on her 21st birthday and discussing boys, some of whom wanted to be options for our future.

I remember something else. These were the dear, ancient days when girls’ dorms had random “bed checks,” to make sure all the girls were in by curfew. Seniors could check out keys and come in late. The rest of us talked friends into propping open a back door so we could sneak in after curfew.

One night, Cheri was out for the evening – most likely for the night – without a key. As I said, the bed checks were random, and should someone in authority ask where a particular girl might be, a friend could always fib and say she was on a different floor studying or sobbing in the stairwell over a lost love or in one of the “fancy” gang showers that had a tub in a private room.

But when bed checks were held, everyone was expected to be in the dorm.

One night, the Resident Adviser – a friend -- whispered to me that bed check was on the schedule that evening and I should figure out how to get Cheri back to the dorm in time. I knew where Cheri’s boyfriend lived, but I didn’t have a car. I didn’t know his phone number or even the name of his roommate, who likely had the phone listed in his name.

I did not panic. I ordered a pizza sent to Cheri’s boyfriend’s apartment, with “CALL PAT” spelled out in sausage. The pizza got delivered, the phone call came and Cheri made it back in time for bed check.

After Cheri walked down the aisle in my wedding, I moved to Oklahoma while she went on to earn her master’s degree in microbiology. She married and moved to Delaware with her husband, Tom. In some order that I do not recall, I had a child and she had four. I do remember that one of her daughters is named for Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park.

At some point maybe 25-plus years ago, I traveled to the East Coast and spent some time with Cheri and Tom and then headed for New York City. I honestly can’t recall if we have seen each other since, though we have exchanged greetings and pertinent news at the holidays. Also, Cheri was kind enough to post a glowing review of one of my books on

Over time, her children married and moved to different parts of the country. My son moved to San Francisco and married in 2009. As regular readers know, I moved here seven months ago. I learned last week that Cheri and Tom’s son and his family also live in San Francisco, so 50 years after we met, Cheri is coming to town.

We have a past in common. Our futures took us in different directions. Now we have a chance to share some present time with both our families. What a gift!


  1. Prediction for the immediate future: Cheri and Pat will have one heck of a good time on this visit.

    [Side note: I wouldn't think spelling out anything with sausage was possible.]

  2. What a great friendship story! Love the description of your dorm life.

    This is Trisha, Linda's daughter (from the Post). I'm planning a trip to San Francisco, and since you live there now, she suggested perusing your blog.