They walked past me with quiet smiles, arm in arm with coffee cups in their free hands. All on a chilly winter’s morning like any other school day.
One of my duties at school is to man a post outside for intake duty, every other day. My presence is supposed to deter students coming from the bus drop-off point from taking a short cut to one of the buildings that, if they did take it, would bring them in the path of the numerous cars of parents who drive their little scholars to school. I see a significant number of my own students at this time, most still with sleep in their eyes and bulging backpacks. One of the last buses to come brings the arrival of two of my 10th graders, quiet but sweet girls who are very clearly close friends. They always share sincere smiles as they walk by, sometimes asking questions that pertain to class, but mostly just exchanging an early morning greeting.
Something struck me about them the other day though. They’re different, somehow a bit more removed from the foolishness that I often observe as a middle/high school teacher and that yet, I can relate to. There’s an element of sincerity between them. With arms interlocked, it dawned on me how they were just being present with each other. At 7:45 on a Friday morning. Enjoying a moment with a friend.
Seeing them the other day made me think of all the friends with whom I have had moments like that. Late night chats in a residence hall lounge. Night time conversations with a roommate while the lights are off and we’re both in our beds. Walks through Boston with a childhood best friend back from the bar, spilling our hearts out over concerns for the future. Tear-filled sessions in the Chapel. Impromptu dance parties. There are some whom have fallen out of my life and others of whom I have stayed strongly connected with, but who are now “scattered to the four winds” across the country. Even though life has changed beyond anyone’s imagination in a matter of years, the friends remain. How simple yet complicated life was just a few years ago. How much was to be learned and experienced. How much we would be there for each other and how much remains for us to be at each others’ sides for. The same kind of scene I observed between these two girls could have been said of me at a similar time: “They walked arm-in-arm through the halls of the sprawling high school. Giggling over inside jokes and stressing over what was to come.” Years later, one could observe, “They walked arm-in-arm across campus, planning coffee dates and shopping trips.” And the words will continue to apply in the future, at weddings and baby showers, graduations and housewarmings, and just ordinary visits with those dearest to us whom life transports to new places near and far.
…they walk arm-in-arm, sharing a moment with a friend.