As noted in my last post, I've always loved to travel by rail. As we left Philadelphia, the train passed through industrial areas and junkyards, reminding me of the Arlo Guthrie song City of New Orleans where he sang about "graveyards of the rusted automobiles." Soon we were in New Jersey and then in New York City's Penn Station. My stop was Bridgeport, CT where I was met by my friend Claudia. We were overjoyed to see each other after a three plus year separation.
Unbelievably, Claudia and I have known each other since age 13. Her family lived just around the corner from our home on Orchard Road in Toledo, OH. Because she went to boarding school and then to college, we lost touch, but later I ran into her at a friend's party and discovered we were living a block apart! Claudia was a social worker and I was an elementary school teacher. Soon after, we both moved into another apartment complex, where we met two guys named John and Andy. Long story short, she married John and I married Andy. Although jobs took us to different cities in the decades that followed, we kept in close touch and visited as often as possible. Our combined five offspring became friends, as well. John's death from lung cancer ten years ago was a sad loss.
Over an Italian dinner, we caught up on all the news and went back to her condo to watch News of the World with Tom Hanks, while I made friends with her cat, Miss Lily. After a lazy morning, Claudia took me through the pretty riverside town of Stratford, which has many lovely homes and historic churches. We enjoyed a seafood lunch by the Housatonic River and wandered through the Mellow Monkey, which featured nautical-themed gifts.
On Tuesday, we did a bit of shopping before another reunion took place at Terrain, an upscale garden and gift shop in beautiful Westport. Joining us for lunch in their cafe were her daughter Kate and Nicoll, another old friend we knew from both Philadelphia and Virginia. Nicoll and her husband Charlie, who now live in Old Lyme, CT were great friends, and we had good times together. More hugs, laughs and lots of sparkling conversation around the table. Later that afternoon, we spent some time with Kate at her beautiful home and I got to see her three children and two very large Bernese Mountain Dogs. We picked up lobster rolls for dinner and had a wonderful evening.
The next morning, we were off to the local airport so I could complete the last leg of this sentimental journey by flying to Charlotte, NC and connecting to Dallas. After being gone for six days, I was very happy to see Andy and get home to my dog, Toby. For me, this trip was, as Nicoll put it, "a vacation for the spirit." All of us had experienced a tough year with the pandemic and the complications it brought to everyday life. I was beyond thrilled to connect with so many good friends and remember how lucky I am to have them, even though we are at a distance from each other. When we do see each other, it is like no time at all has passed. It's the best kind of therapy for old friends!
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.