Sunday, August 21, 2011

Places to go, people to see

I guess you can go home a way.

People who spend any time around me are probably sick of hearing me wax rhaphsodic about my home state of Michigan. I think it's a very special place, and unfortunately it often gets painted with the same large brush that passes over Detroit (another place people know nothing about other than the "decay porn" that shows up on the evening news).

I'm traveling back this week for my High School class reunion (let's just say it's divisible by 10 and leave it at that). But really, it's an excuse for me to cruise the state and visit some people I haven't seen in a very long time.

One of those people was my friend Susan, whom I haven't seen since we graduated from Journalism school over 20 years ago. Sue was one of my best friends during a particularly challenging time in my life; I counted on her for professional and personal advice. I probably leaned on her a lot more than she knew at the time. We fell out of touch over the years, but recently reconnected on facebook; when I knew I was going to be traveling to Michigan, I asked if I could stop by and say hi.

Such "reunions" are often difficult and awkward. I'm generally a fan of leaving the past in the past where it belongs, but this friendship was (and is) more important to me than some, so I thought it was worth the risk.

As it turns out, it was. Susan and her family were very gracious in accepting me into their home, showing me around town, and even helping arrange for a mechanic when my vehicle started to make a horrible scraping sound that, I'm sure, terrified dogs and young children miles away with its incessant screeching. We chatted away into the wee hours of the morning over some wine I brought from New York (well, to be honest, I did most of the drinking), caught up on old times, shared some new memories, and renewed a friendship that now spans several decades.

During the tour Susan gave me of her new hometown, the conversation turned to author E.B. White, best known for his books "Charlotte's Web" and "Stuart Little", as well as the indispensable writer's reference, "The Elements of Style." Turns out, White used to hang around the area, and we remarked at how few authors could capture the imagination of both children and adults. It's another relationship that spans decades; the bond between author and reader. And I was reminded of one of my favorite EB White quotes, this one from "Charlotte's Web":

"It's not every day that someone comes along who is a good friend AND a good writer. Charlotte was both."

So is Susan. I'm blessed and lucky to have good friends like her in my life.

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