Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Walking and talking

Somehow a full year had gone by since I’d last visited my college roommate at her beachside home, and it was time for us to have our annual catch-up.

We take our yearly catch-up visits seriously. With her four children and my two, plus our husbands’ work lives and other activities, plus our siblings and parents, plus our friends and our respective community projects, plus the books we’ve read, the vacations we’ve taken, and the crises we’ve endured  since we last got together, plus the fact that we simply have loads of interests in common, there’s always a lot to talk about. And we see each other only a couple of times a year. But the best catch-up is always our annual October Walk, when we take an eight-mile stroll on the beach, beginning outside her back door, down alongside the Atlantic to the village south of hers, where we stop for lunch, then around town and onto the cliff walk overlooking the water, and then back.

She has a daughter finishing college and another one just starting the application process. One daughter has learned to drive and the youngest competed in the Nationals track qualifiers this past summer. She didn’t qualify for the Nationals, but the family had a wonderful time in New York anyway, and as we walked I heard all about it. I talked plenty myself also – about Tim starting high school, Holly starting a second year on the cross-country team, my various freelance assignments, Rick’s enthusiasm for his job.

We could sit down for four hours and have the same conversation, but somehow it doesn’t seem like it would be quite the same. As my friend pointed out yesterday, there was one year that our plans were rained out and we went out for dinner without taking a walk, and that year was fun, but not quite the same as the years we walk. It’s just so exhilarating to cover so many miles on foot while we cover so much ground in our personal lives through our nonstop dialogue. We’re usually out about four hours. Then we end our walk, pause the conversation, take a deep breath, get ready to say goodbye.

Like all traditions, it can’t go on forever, but I’m so happy we’ve sustained it as many years as we have. The physical exertion of walking for miles on the beach feels so rewarding, and the emotional sustenance we take from our annual visit is equally so. It’s good to walk and good to talk. And best is to do both – walk and talk – together. An annual tradition, and something to look forward to every fall.

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