Archives for posts with tag: high school

My mom used to say, “Age is a state of mind,” which is of course, the companion phrase to “You are only as old as you feel.”

On Thursday, I took my usual walk with my next door neighbor (4.2 miles this time) before working a busy eight-hour shift at the store. I got home shortly after  8:00 p.m., visited with Dr. T and Waldo, and had a snack. Another neighbor, with whom I have occasionally started walking in the evenings, texted me. Would Waldo and I care to join her and her dog for a stroll? Sure.

I hooked up the dog and headed down the street. I enjoyed a pleasant visit with my neighbor on the deserted creek side path, smelling the honeysuckle and admiring the sky, laughing at the dogs losing their minds at the smell of the deer in the distance.

We talked about our days. “You must be exhausted,” my neighbor said when she heard about mine. “Not really,” said I, “I actually feel pretty good.”

I’m not sure how far the second walk was, but I was gone about an hour, and I know that the round trip from my house to the trailhead at the end of my neighbor’s street is one mile, so I am guessing roughly two or three miles total. Knowing I did not have to work the following day, I stayed up for a while.

Yesterday, I had an early appointment with the doctor. I came home, did some general straightening around the house and helped Dr. T with some pool-related chores in the backyard. I vacuumed the living room and family room carpets. I picked up the dry cleaning and dropped off a pair of pants for alterations. I got home around 2:30, and by 3:00 I was headed back to bed, completely flummoxed as to why I was so dang tired. Then I thought about Thursday.

Writing this, I am reminded of my 10th high school reunion, way back when. We danced and drank and carried on, and the next day there was an informal picnic at a neighborhood park. I still remember what  my classmate Joel said that afternoon: “It didn’t seem like ten years last night, but it sure does today.”

It’s always the next day that gets you, isn’t it?

Quite a number of years ago,  I was sitting in the backyard of my friend Lynda’s house, after a high school reunion. Lynda was there, of course, as was my friend Carol. (Carol is a sage, by the way, and as you may have guessed, she, Lynda, and I attended high school together.) Carol was holding forth on the subject of “gifts”, as in the sort you are born with.  She identified hers, and I asked her, “what about mine?” (I have to confess that at this point, I do not remember whether Diane, who deserves her own post, was still with us or whether she had headed home to her family.)

I may not recognize  all of them, but my best gift  has been apparent to me for a long time: I have been blessed with the ability to make and keep friends. Like it or not, once you are my friend, you are my friend until you officially resign. The first person to bring this to my attention was my mom; she was visiting me in San Diego while I was still in my 20s, and observed, ” You make friends wherever you go.” I remember thinking at the time, “Why wouldn’t I?” In my youth, I took friendship for granted in the same way I regarded oxygen.

My friends are my oxygen. They sustain me. No joy, no sorrow, no aggravation or amusement would mean anything without them to share it. My worst job was made tolerable by my friendship with Thu. My best job was made better because of friendships with too many folks to name. (ok, except maybe Jill. And Phong. And Jen. Oh hell- so many great people there!)

And then there’s Missy, who uses a grown up name now. We’ve been friends for 45 years  (Missy was pre-embryonic when we met.)

I am grateful to have maintained friendships with the neighbors I had when we were here in Durham for the first time, and to have recently made my first “work friend” at my part-time job. Tonight at my literacy class, I ran into a woman I trained with, and we made a plan to connect soon.

Tomorrow I will walk the neighborhood trail with my next-door neighbor. She was there when I moved into this house in 1997, and I am so glad she was still here when I came back last June. We will walk and talk about our other friends, and I will just keep being grateful.

One of the things I have noticed since beginning this little blog is that given the opportunity, I’d start almost everything I write with the phrase, “one of the things.” I don’t understand it; I don’t think I use the expression in everyday speech. I have never gone so far as to type it until today, either. It’s just a little warm-up exercise, I guess. I think “One of the things…” as I formulate my topic sentence the way someone else might crack his knuckles as he prepared to act.

Which reminds me of a boy I knew in high school, who used to love to tease me by cracking his knuckles (“Eeew, gross!”) when he sat next to me in Algebra. Given my math aversion, it was the highlight of the class. His name was Clint, and he was charming and funny and had a big mustache, which was fascinating to a sophomore girl like me. I had a vague, unrequited crush on him, one of many such crushes I carried for the boys who were remotely pleasant to me in those days. (I was no High School Queen, if I haven’t mentioned that- no mojo at all.)

I heard several years ago that he had died of cancer, which surprised and saddened me, and made me realize that my assumption that I would always have a chance to catch up with the friends of my youth was just an assumption. I’d like to say that the realization spurred me to finally organize that informal reunion I’d been contemplating, but it didn’t. I have, however, managed to stay in fairly good contact with my dearest friends from that time, even though there is really never enough time for that, is there?

George Lakoff

George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (

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