I don’t think I mentioned it here, but something happened a couple days ago that was pretty cool. I saw an old friend was online on Facebook, so I said hi in FB chat, and she suggested going to Skype. I use it to call my parents’ phone, but I’d actually never done a Skype-to-Skype call – didn’t even realize they had video (though, duh. But I’d just never thought about it. We had a nice long talk, in the course of which I got to see her three-year-old daughter (and sing “I Know and Old Woman” to her) and we talked about both our lives.

Now, in this case when I say “old friend” I mostly mean “friend from a long time ago”. She’s a year older than me; we lived three houses away from each other from birth until college. We were best friends when we were little, until we reached the age when friendship because more about shared interests than just a willingness to play together. We kept in touch after that first because our parents stayed on the same street and then because she and her husband bought her parents’ house and lived there until a year of two ago. Her parents moved to Florida and what with proximity and the fact that neither my brother nor I have procreated (at least so far – and I mean that in reference to him, not me) my parents are honorary grandparents to her kids. She kept in touch with them even after moving off the street.

So we like each other and always have, but at this point most of our current bonds are based on shared history. But it was just nice talking to her, in a way that surprised me a bit, especially because we talked about our lives now more than about our past. I think a lot of the credit is due to her, really, because she seems to get two things a lot of old friends don’t: I’m interested in her life. It seems like I have two sorts of conversation a lot, with some of the poepl I’ve known for a long while: there are the ones who say, “Oh, you’ve lived in Europe and Asia, you’ve done all kinds of things, you don’t want to her about my boring life,” (and sometimes they say that almost literally) and there are the ones who imply “I am the center of the universe and everyone else’s life is just like mine, so that’s what we’ll talk about.” It sounds like a pretty simple concept but a lot of people don’t quite get it and I think A. does: my life is mundane to me because I live it every day, but because it’s my everyday experience I like talking about it, as anyone would. Her life is interesting to me because I care about her and her family but also because it is so different than mine – a whole different set of problems and joys. There’s the tinge of exotic-ness, and that interest and clarity you have when looking at other people’s issues. Just because lots of people have kids doesn’t mean it’s less of an adventure. (And I was struck anew by how *complicated* parenting is! I always think of it as hard work, emotionally and physically challenging, but I think I forget how intellectually challenging it is. SO many things to think about.) And it doesn’t really hurt that her daughter is one of the most beautiful and sweetest-natured children I know 🙂

Her life, in particular, is interesting to me because it’s an alternate path I so easily could have followed – how often do you get to actually peek in and see how your might-have-beens turned out? (In fact, I wrote this about her.)

I think she enjoyed the chat too – and probably for the same reasons, or their mirror image. So yes, we’ll definitely be talking again.

Off to Amsterdam tonight and the US tomorrow!