Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I was an intern at the family agency and could hardly believe my good fortune. Now I was dealing with real people rather than studying case histories in the classroom. Thus began my professional career and much of what I learned in that far away time has remained with me.

What has also been a dividend from that time is a friendship that developed with another intern in that office. In the many years since that time, during the incredible changes in our lives and in the wide, wide world, our love for each other has not diminished. Together, we gained some confidence in our professional selves. We also reveled in being young and carefree.

Although in later years we traveled to faraway and exotic places -- at that time our travel was to singles resorts in the Catskills and Adirondacks, citadels of dreams, that no longer exist in the era of modern transportation.

We grew oldder. We got jobs. We got married. We moved out of the sheltering arms of our parents' homes. We learned how to cook and combine being wives and dedicated workers. Our husbands became part of our close friendship and we added children to our circle.

Our friends moved to Westchester; we stayed in Manhattan. We exchanged visits as often as we could. I remember some feeling of difference in their lifestyle. Their friends seemed more suburban, more interested in their homes, their gardens, their carpools. The didn't travel into Manhattan as much for theatre, museums, and concerts.

But, despite what felt somewhat like their complacency, we remained closely bound by our political passion. We lived in turbulent times -- the Great Depression, World War II, the labor movements thrust towards unions, the left wings -- "We Shall Overcome." We joined in the struggles. We wanted to change the world as our children would do a generation later. We marched in parades and sang songs of protest that still ring in my ears.

We got even older. My husband died. I went to her husband's 100th birthday party. A few days ago, my friend called me to say that her busband died at the age of 104. Until the end, he had been playing bridge, taking art classes, and enjoying life with his partner for 73 years.

With all the memories stirred up, all the feeling the news of a long-time friend evoked, why did I smell the rich aroma of my friend's mother's cabbage soup? As interns we would drop in to her mother's apartment for dinner, which was near our office. Clearer than any other memory was sitting at her dining room table, sipping the soup, keenly aware at some level that all of life, with its infinite possibilities, stretched ahead of me.

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