Friendship is a wonderful thing.

There is only one deeply unsatisfying aspect of life in Craftsbury, Vermont, and it is the lack of social opportunities. To put is bluntly, I have no friends. Sure, I have my teammates, who are great, but we spend pretty much every hour of every day together, and sometimes we get on each others’ nerves. We share so much that there are some things we can’t share.

Some people would find this admission surprising, since I have a reputation as a self-sufficient recluse. But I miss having friends, darnit.

Luckily, this year two of my dear friends from Colorado have come to visit me. I say that they are from Colorado, but they aren’t, really; that’s just where I met them. We were all summer people, woven into the community even though we’d head back to our respective homes when September rolled around.

Laura Rolfe was my cabin-mate the first summer I lived in Colorado. We had a tiny mining shack to ourselves: one room downstairs, with a kitchen and a bed, and half a room upstairs. The refrigerator was in the entry-way, we caught a million mice, and we even had a bat fly around at night one time. It was an amazing summer.

Both Laura and I (we’re on the right in this picture) returned to Gothic the following summer, but then she left for California and spent the next three years caring for her aging grandfather. I meanwhile went about my self-absorbed, busy college life, and then my self-absorbed, isolated life as an athlete.

This fall, Laura was preparing to move to Hawaii and decided to do a road trip across the country to see all her friends before she left. Amazingly, I was able to convince her to take a detour almost all the way to Canada to come visit me in northern Vermont. This was a big training week for me, so I was afraid I was going to be a terrible host – tired, boring, busy – but I was so excited to see her anyway.

Laura arrived on Monday night and we whipped up a simple dinner: fresh pasta with garlicky salmon and spinach, topped with goat cheese, and a side of warm baguettes. We had a lot of catching up to do, because we hadn’t even really stayed in touch over the last few years. I told Laura about life as a skier, the pros and cons of living in the middle of nowhere, and how I spent my spring break, and she told me about nursing, her new boyfriend, and all of the friends she’d seen so far on her road trip.

I had to rollerski the next morning, but we spent the afternoon walking around the Center. I showed her the bread oven, the compost shed, the new solar panels, and the boathouse. We sat on the dock and enjoyed the calm surrounding the lake. I worried that I was being boring, but Laura soaked up the atmosphere and didn’t seem to mind. Craftsbury is a good place for contemplation, and it was a beautiful fall day.

After that we watched the other girls do a biathlon workout, tried shooting some guns, and sat around and talked more.

It was so good to see her and catch up. Our lives are so different now. Laura is moving to Hawaii! She really is. I’m so excited for her. But it means that we won’t be able to see each other for another long time. And this is sad. Laura is the one who taught me all sorts of amazing things. She showed me how to make an envelope out of a picture in a magazine. She gave me what is still my favorite collection of folksy music. She drank tea with me every night and played gin rummy. She did my makeup for Gothic prom that one time. Laura taught me a lot; she is a great friend, a wonderful person, and I think she taught me how to be more of those things, too.

Thanks for coming to visit, Laura. I may have seemed subdued, but that’s what life gives me these days. Seeing you meant the world to me.

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