Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Friends Through All These Years

Matt and Al Posing with Olivia and Alyssa

I was a little bit sad as I stepped onto the plane in Lisbon, last month, to head home on vacation. Knowing I had less than a year left in this country, I didn't want to miss a day. What pushed the saddness aside, was the knowledge that I was going home to see great friends (and family, of course). Time-tested and true friends. You just can't pass up an opportunity like that.

The day after we arrived in NY, we were able to see the Renna's. Al and Matt met during Scout camp as young teenagers. Many years later, they ran into each other at Suny Albany. It wasn't too long before they became college roommates. Al and his wife, Michelle, started dating during Scout camp. Matt, Al and Michelle, obviously, go way back. I enjoy listening to them talk about the "good ole days" when we all get together. Al and his family (their daugther isn't too much older than Olivia, and their son is a bit older than Lila) drove up from Scraton, PA just so they could spend a few hours with us. The next night, Matt and Al, Al having business in the area, were able to spend some time together catching up. We're hoping Al and his wife are able to make it out to Portugal before we leave.

Amie and Natalie - Friends from Infancy

Amie and I go way way back. In fact, our mothers grew up as neighbors. Years later, they found themselves neighbors once again - raising a family just doors down from each other. Amie and I have known each other from birth. We've shared many summer days, sleep-overs, baking sessions with her mom, walks and bike rides around the block.

When we were seven (me) and six-years-old, our mothers' took us to see Oliver at the Flynn Theater in Burlington, VT. Each year after that, twice a year, we embarked on a night out at the theatre with our moms. The oldest daughters in each family. We carried on this tradation for nearly two decades. I'm quite certain that Amie has tickets of those memorable evenings scrapbooked away somewhere (not me - I'm way too disorganized for that!).

We've stuck by each other through bad boyfriends and the inevidable broken hearts they leave behind. From time to time, we've lost touch. But, always, when we reconnect, anyone listening in on our conversations could be inclined to think we were sisters.

Olivia was the flower girl in her wedding last month. We wouldn't have missed it for the world! We're a little bit sad that we won't be able to carry on the tradition of raising our children together. We will, however, continue to carry wonderful memories in our hearts and, for sure, we will continue to make more memories when opportunites present themselves (and they always do). Next year, for instance,the Army will move us a bit closer to each other...

Laura and I at Chaddsford Winery in Pennsylvania

Of course, I can't forget Laura! She and I spent out high school years swapping babysitting nightmare stories. We shared a few classes and, of course boyfriend problems (does any teenager not have boyfriend problems). Our long conversations on the phone were often interrupted by a certain sister of mine unplugging the phone. When she moved to Pennsylvania, we stayed in touch. She's made many trips back up to Vermont and I've made a few trips to visit her. She and her husband, Lee, came up to Alaska and spent a week with us. Recently, she and her husband paid us a visit here in Portugal. As always, we had a lovely time together! Lee and Laura were very impressed with Portugal and hope to get back someday. Like many Americans, they had no idea Portugal is such a great vacation destination!

When my mother-in-law agreed to watch the girls overnight last month, I hopped on the chance to drive to PA to visit. We shared an evening of shopping, good food, good wine and good conversation. In the morning, we drove to Chaddsford winery and tasted some local wines before ending our day with a fantastic lunch before I had to head back my girls. I hated saying goodbye, as always!

I also have to give a special shout out to the Silverstrim Family. It's through them that I met my husband (Martin, in particular) and now live this rich, ever changing-life! Once again , they opened up their home for us doing our stay in Vermont. Bill, especially, helped me get the kids to bed each night. We enjoyed dinners out and quiet evenings watching the Olympics together. Thanks again, guys. Martin, we better see you here soon!

Great friends, great times!

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