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A Friendship like Magic Mud

April 18, 2018

A young boy walks past me, hurrying past the grown-up books on display to the children’s section.  He looks familiar.  A moment later another, also familiar boy walks past.  It’s been three years–I’m pretty sure they won’t recognize me or even remember meeting me, so I debate calling after them to say hello.  I turn towards the children’s section, turn back, and see their mom stride in.  She looks thinner than I remember, though maybe she was that thin three years ago.  Her wild, curly hair is cut short, though I’ve seen it in all different lengths over the years.  What’s new are the streaks of gray.

Our hug is familiar, but not as long as our hugs once were.  In high school I might have squealed and run to her, rocked back in forth in our bear hug.  Now, I think about all that I don’t know in her life.

Later, in the car, she tells me about her new job.  I don’t know when she left her old job.  She tells me about the boys’ current interests, and I try to remember their ages–are they second grade?  Third?  I wonder if this is the last visit we’ll have together.  Will we make the effort to see each other again in another three years?

But at her house, my coat is hardly hung up before one son has dragged me off to see the book nook the brothers created.  I head back down to my friend, and he brings me books to recommend.  He lends me one of his favorites to read.  “He doesn’t do that with many people,” she tells me.  “You’re special.”

At yoga class, the teacher gives her a correction, then the same one to me, gives me a correction, then the same one to her.  I think about dancing together in high school, when our arms would swing at the very same time, when I could reach out my hand without looking and her hand would be there.

After, I compliment her sweater and she says, “I have two others just like this.  I’ll give you one.”  I remember the skirts we traded back and forth in high school, the midriff-baring tank top she gave me when I pierced my belly button while visiting her.

At home, she invites me to join her family for their community Shabbat dinner.  We talk about the camp reunion coming up this summer.

We’re like magic mud, she and I. That combination of cornstarch and water is rigid and hard when pushed too quickly, but with a gentle touch and time, it is soft and yielding.  Our friendship takes time to ease back into, but the softness comes.


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  1. I think we need the time to catch up. My best friend in school lost contact when we left school in 1979. We lived in different parts of the country. About six years ago we got in touch again through Facebook 🙂 We know more about each other’s lives but yet to meet in person. Hopefully it will happen. I live in South India and she in North India.

  2. Your comparison of friendship to Magic Mud is interesting to me . . . Magic mud is bizarre to me in that it is a liquid when standing still, but manages to solidify when handled. I guess I have Magic Mud friendships; relationships that withstand years without contact and yet are incredibly strong on the rare get togethers. I hope it’s not another 3 years before your next hug!

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