gratitude-a-thon day 2078: old friends

Cue up the music: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” And by that I mean Thankgiving, when the whole country gets on their gratitude, even if it is only for one day. I’ll take it, because when it comes to gratitude, even if you’re opening yourself up to the concept for 60 mouth watering seconds before taking a big ol’ bite of turkey and mashed potatoes (and don’t get me started on the mashed potatoes, because you know how I am, so really, don’t) it’s better than not. I mean, a little gratitude is better than none at all, always.

Today mine is all about a 48 year old friendship, and a new city. I met my friend Steph freshman year of high school. We were 13. She’d just moved to town from Westport and our friend Bobby (who would later become my boyfriend for a whole bunch of years and the nicest guy ever) scooped us up in his Jeep and drove us to his house to hang out. I remember so distinctly, and note here, how I cannot remember what I went into the kitchen for half the time, the two of us standing by the fence in his beautiful backyard and just being so excited by the prospect of having this new girl become my new friend.

She was artistic and had a difficult dad like I did. And there’s nothing quite like having a difficult dad to cement a friendship, I can tell you. She was always up for fun. We did lots of stuff together over the years, including being bad girl cheerleaders, laying on the roof of my house to get a tan during April vacations in Connecticut, and plotting our futures in California, which never did quite come to fruition (although my son lived out this dream for both of us).

She visited us on our family’s yearly month on the Cape, came to see me during college, saw me through broken hearts and family deaths, came to New York to see me and meet my husband to be, when I lived there, and Boston when we moved back. We spent a Vineyard vacation together, and kept in touch throughout her time living in Colorado and then settling down in Fairfield with her new husband. I even helped to do the flowers at her super beautiful barn wedding, way before they were even a thing. For the past 48 years, we’ve remained in touch, sometimes just by phone, sometimes in real life. Steph has the most distinct and perfect handwriting of anyone I know and she has always been in contact with me by mail. To get a card from Steph, which doesn’t just have the great handwriting, but also some of her artwork, is to get something you keep in your “stuff to keep” file.

Old friendships give you a sense of time. They help you measure where you’ve been, how you’ve grown and who you are. My parents have been gone a long time (sadly, my mom, for 28 years). She knew them. She understands me in a particular way that someone who didn’t know them, can never understand me. That alone, is money in the bank. Her knowledge of the totality of my life is kind of everything in the friendship game.

Look at Rio. What a sweet dog. Kind of a love fest. Shhhhhh.

For the past four days, I was with her in her home in Asheville, NC. We are four days apart, and we kept talking about how we just had to  celebrate our 60th together. We didn’t, but of course, we spoke and i did see her a few weeks ago when she came East for a mini high school reunion on the Cape, which I missed because of Ally’s senior game. Anywho, she called me a few weeks ago to tell me that The Moth was going to have a Gratitude edition in Asheville and I should come. I thought I shouldn’t because of Thanksgiving and work and it being an inconvenient time of year, and then in a split second, I thought I should and I had to. I hadn’t been to her new city since she’d moved there and it suddenly seemed like  here was a way to celebrate our 60th before we hit 61, and appropriately around gratitude!

And once again, our time together was the most natural thing in the world. We never lack for conversation, whether it’s remembering and laughing about high school, or discussing our current day lives, getting older, careers, our crazy love for our dogs, or doing new stuff to add to our decades of memories. We are like a comfortable pair of slippers. You throw them on and feel instantly cozy.

Asheville is absolutely fabulous. It’s heavily populated with artists,  amazing places to eat, and cool things to do. The Moth was great fun and something that’s been on my To Do list forever. And of course, it was extra meaningful to hear the stories focused on gratitude.

Steph is a professional artist and pilates teacher, which is cool combo. I got to see her gallery space, another space she sells her work,  and even attend an art opening at the renovation of the local hospital where two of her paintings are gracing the walls. I most loved her home studio, where she keeps her bounty of art supplies. I am not an artist, but I love all things that make art. And up until high school, it was my biggest interest, so being around art making brings me back to a time of comfort and curiosity.

I caught her off-guard, but here is Steph at like 6 AM in her studio making art. She does this every morning. I love this picture. It’s so her.

I do not want my dog to know, but I kind of fell in love with her dog, Rio. He initially barked at me when I walked in, but pretty soon after, our love affair began (and if you tell Riley, I will deny it, so don’t even think about it). I hadn’t seen her husband, Paul  in literally decades, but we picked up just like we’d been together a day ago. It was the most fabulous visit, filled with good things to eat, a hike to see the Blue Ridge Mountains up Craggy Pinnacle, a visit to the National Gingerbread House Competition at a super beautiful resort, a lecture at Creative Mornings, a craft fair, and of course, a little bit of shopping.

So much gratitude goes to a friendship that has endured and grown. 48 years is nothing to sneeze at (although I did sneeze throughout my visit, because, yup, I’ve got a cold). Glad to share another chapter with my friend, to see Asheville and to know that to have a friendship this long is to have a kind of gratitude that is rare.



gratitude-a-thon day 2066: the knee bone’s connected to the friendship

Jake and Sophie. Sophie and Jake. These two were inseparable as kids. They grew up together. Here they are walking down “the aisle” in Menemsha on the the Vineyard, a place we vacationed together for many years. This weekend Sophie gets married. And despite knee surgery, Jake will be there, We all will be.

My son is no stranger to knee surgery. He had a meniscal repair (they go in and stitch up the torn meniscus) and then you’re in pain for a week and a brace for 6 weeks and physical therapy and no sports ensue for three months. He had two on one knee and one on the other, in 5th, 6th and 8th grades. And two days ago he had another, making a total of three on that left leg. Although this time, no repair, just a big snip of meniscus.

He was goofing around while visiting San Diego friends from LA and his knee locked, as in couldn’t straighten it. He was lucky that he already had an appt. with an ortho doc my husband knew for a day later (because his other knee was bugging him, yup, uh huh). Anyway, his meniscus was stuck in his joint space and surgery was the only way to get it out. So, for a week, he couldn’t walk, or straighten his knee.

To complicate matters, the wedding of one of his closest childhood friends is this Saturday. He refused to hear of not being there (despite not being able to destroy the dance floor)! So, our goal has been to get him on a plane, because FRIENDSHIP.

I flew to San Diego for his surgery and he had it two days ago. He’s doing ok, although uncomfortable in bed, watching bad movies and ESPN, hooked up to an hourly ice machine, eating snacks from Trader Joe’s and room service (who must think we are two reclusive weirdos).

It’s beautiful here, but I’ve pretty much just seen the inside of a hotel room.  An old Boston friend had us to a wonderful dinner at her house the night before surgery and I got to meet her husband and kids, so that was the fun part. Today we have to move to another hotel because we didn’t think we’d be here this long, and the hotel has no rooms (his post-op got postponed until tomorrow).

My gratitude: that my son is ok. Resilient and resting his knee, he will be just fine in a week or two and will embark on a killer quad building workout program. I am grateful for my husband’s old friend/doctor coming in on his day off, the incredibly nice nurses at the surgery center. So grateful for my hysterical friend Cheryl opening her home to us, and all the well wishes from friends near and far (that really helps when the chips are down, I’ll tell you).

We will be on that plane Friday morning and see our adorable friend Sophie walk down the aisle. Because friendship matters. In fact, it’s everything in my book and apparently my son’s too.


gratitude-a-thon day 2038: old friends



Twenty-five years later, Cosmopoulos, Crowley, Daly. 

Gratitude to old friends. Not that they’re old–I mean their friendship is old. Although one of them is 82, which I think might actually be considered old. Course the older I get, the younger old becomes, but I think over 80 is the start of getting old, right? Can we call it that? You are only as old as you feel….. but uh oh, I’m digressing.


In the past few weeks, I’ve had some occasions to see old friends and awe gratitude was leaking out of my pores. It’s good to remember who you used to be, where you’ve been, good to reconnect with the past and catch up on the present.


Ah, the girls. They look exactly the same.


Occasion One was a reunion of people who I worked with at an ad agency 25 years ago. Yuh-huh– twenty-five years ago. It was a small agency overlooking the Boston Public Garden. It’s where I worked with an art director named Karl, who was my partner and became my friend and who helped me laugh off the epic infertility I had. It’s where I worked on accounts like Waterville Valley Ski Resort and Brigham’s Ice Cream and The Hynes Convention Center. It’s where I threw a shower for a co-worker who I had bonded with over both miscarrying, and had to leave in the middle of the party I had planned because I was so sad. It’s where I was once so cold on a day when I was writing a long copy brochure that I walked to the closest store, which happened to be the most expensive and bought a big, fat, chunky sweater for $275. It would clearly be $875 now, if that store hadn’t gone out of business. (May Louis of Boston rest in peace).  It’s not like that’s what I spent on clothes back then, in fact it was more than I’d probably spent on anything before, it’s just that I could not walk one step further because I was like Elsa in Frozen. I mean, I was chilled inside my body like I’d been in the freezer at the morgue and I had a deadline to meet. The sweater worked, but when I got home and looked at it in a long mirror I realized the big, fat, chunky sweater actually made me look big, fat and chunky, too. So for the next 10 years to amortize the hefty price tag, I brought it with me to every agency I worked at,  where it became known as “the sweater” and anyone who was cold wore it  (looking big, fat and chunky to varying degrees).

Everyone at the reunion looked remarkably good. Even one of the partners, who was 82 looked exactly the same as he had 25 years ago, prompting me to ask him what the heck he was doing because I needed to start doing it.


BU alumni and best friends, Jane and Cid.


Cid at our first dorm.
We got inside the building. Thanks to a very nice groundskeeper.

Occasion Two was that one of my college besties who lives in Chicago, who I never get to see, had a funeral in Rhode Island and came and stayed with me for three days! And we dialed up the other third of us and we had ourselves a dinner at my house and maybe you heard a loud noise last Wednesday night because that would be us–we were howling like a pack of wolves. We relived the old day’s greatest hits, then moved on to the now. It was perfect. Cid and I toured a very changed Boston and even went back to our old dorm. These girls will be my friends forever. This is how it is with old friends, you can’t erase the impact of your bond and for me, these are people I would do anything for, not just because I loved them then, but because I still love them now.






gratitude-a-thon day 1093: I was born in a small town: the reunion

The last and only time I went to a high school reunion, it was my 20th and I was pregnant (yes, I double as my children’s mother and grandmother). I did not even let a sip of wine cross my lips (note to self for next life: DO NOT ATTEND A HIGH SCHOOL REUNION UNDER THESE CONDITIONS. You don’t need a lot, but a little social lubricant at an event like this is um, money in the bank). Anyway, I felt like it was a little bit wierd and that I just went from person to person asking the same couple questions: Where do you live? What do you do? Married? Kids? And I did that, like, 30 times. Very impersonal. I’m more of a one-on-one person. I prefer to have one deep conversation than many surface ones. I left feeling unsatisfied and empty.



I decided a few months ago, I’d attend my 40th and just see what might happen. And you know what, the best happened. First of all, there were a few more intimate gatherings before and after the reunion where I was able to connect in deeper ways, which felt really good. I did have a bunch of those more surface conversations, but somehow they were better than last time, but what was really amazing and made this event worth missing a Bruno Mars concert for (I felt awful when I got home and had to give the tickets I’d had since last Christmas, away–DAMN IT), was getting to know people I grew up with, but really didn’t know. Because of Facebook and the overlapping of friend groups, I hung out with a bunch of people I’d not been good friends with in high school, but now had a lot in common with.  And how fun is that? New friends, but who know everything about that little place I grew up, who have knowledge of the crazy teachers and bizarre tales of our small town.

And of course, there were the friends who I love deeply, who I was close to then, some still close to, and some I am now reconnected to, after being disconnected for who even knows why, over the years. These are people I carry with me always. This one’s laugh, that one’s thoughtful observations, all of them, deeply embedded inside of me, each one a part of my  DNA.

The now, the present, the right this minute is the place to be. But the past is a lovely place to visit, especially when it influences your present and future. Gratitude for the BHS reunion. I was born in a small town. Yup, I was. French fries!




gratitude-a-thon day 340: Go team!

Best pals back in Buffalo.

His mother-in-law’s emergency surgery brought Peter’s oldest friend Kevin and his family to town last night. It’s really fun to see kids when they’re little and then again when they’re big. Kevin has six of them. While one couldn’t come, because she was working, the rest of them did, and it was like having a sports team in the house. Kevin just finished a half iron man, Linda, the mom looks like a fitness model. There are two D1 track and soccer players, a high school baseball and volleyball player, and a grammar school baseball player, who, get this, plays out of Dallas, two hours from their home! Grateful for the unexpected company of the McQuaid gang.

Team McQuaid. What a totally awesome family. 


birthday-a-tude-a-thon: happiest day, steph

My gorgeous friend Steph, who I’ve known since I was 13. She’s the best. The gosh darn best there is.

To my friend Steph, who I met in the backyard of my soon to be boyfriend’s house, freshman year of high school (Go Wildcats!), who was from Westport, and stunningly pretty with the flattest stomach I had ever seen in my life, who’s handwriting I coveted, because it was like its own font, who had older parents like mine, and a penchant for having a good time. To my friend Steph, who used to lay up on the roof of my house with me for a tan (what did we think the closer to the sun, the better?), who used to come to the Cape with me and eat cantaloupe (remember my cantaloupe phase), who taught me to make that really good tuna and lettuce salad. To my friend Steph, who was one of the bad boy cheerleaders, with highlighted hair that was enviable, and great style, and a bajillion boyfriends, who was smarter than the studying she did, and who had a dad a little like mine, who was difficult, and a mom a little like mine, who was wonderful.

Steph & I last year. A friendship that’s survived and flourished through more than four decades.

To my friend Steph who I AM SO GRATEFUL TO SAY is still my friend 42 whole years after I met her. STILL. MY. FRIEND. Always my friend. To Steph who has pulled me back when I needed it and pushed me forward when I couldn’t do it myself, who was born four days after me, and has invented and re-invented herself with poise, but who has always remained a true artist (see her latest reinvention at art & kindness) who is good to the core, spiritually sound and absolutely real, who I deeply love and will always adore. Thank you for your trueness all these years. Thank your for your point of view. Don’t ever forget how positively special you are. In general, and to me. Here’s to the double fives. Happy birthday, Stephanie. Love you.

p.s I’ll always be older than you!