The Goddess Speaks
High school friendship lasts forever
Donna was my almost-twin in high school -- it says so under our yearbook pictures. In a creative writing class, we discovered that we had been born one day apart, in the same hospital. Although our parents didn't know each other, we had probably shared the same nursery.
We both sang in the chorus and made the Connecticut All-State Chorus. We were in separate classes of an American history course that offered a book award -- Donna won the award in her section and I won it in mine. We would start to say the same things at the same time. It was perfect.
We went through the mid-1960s together. She became interested in the counterculture and introduced me to Bob Dylan's "115th Dream," up in the bedroom of the small but exuberant house that she shared with three brothers and a sister. We would take the commuter train to New York City, shop for cheap earrings on 42nd Street and listen to protest music at Greenwich Village coffee houses, feeling we were doing something dangerous. Yup, perfect.
We were English majors at the same university and were close until sophomore year, when she married, moved off campus and had a child. We kept in touch, but not as frequently. She became active in the peace movement during the Vietnam war; my last clear memory of her in college is her performance in a play at a counterculture church in 1968 -- she writhed across the floor wearing a gas mask. I heard that she divorced and moved to New Hampshire, and I moved to New York and then Hawaii. Sadly, we lost track of each other.
I thought about her periodically, and about five years ago, I joined Classmates.com specifically to find her. I was thrilled to find her name on the list, and immediately sent her an e-mail. But a response never arrived. I feared I'd never see her again, but consoled myself with the reminder that people grow in different directions and don't always want to reconnect.
Then one day, after our 40th high school reunion was announced, I got an e-mail from Donna. Where was I? What was I doing? I wrote back immediately. As it turns out, she had tried to contact me during the '90s and had never gotten my first e-mail.
After many e-mails and phone calls, we joyfully met at the reunion. We stayed up late talking across the darkened attic bedroom, next door to the house where we had first listened to Bob Dylan.
We discovered that our almost-twinship continues. Her first husband's name was John, and her current husband's name is Bill. I once lived with a John and am now also married to a Bill. We are both former ESL teachers and are mean Scrabble players.
Last summer, my Bill and I went to see Donna and her Bill, in Vancouver, where they live on a sailboat. They motored us out to the boat for dinner. As we went below, I looked at the galley table, beautifully set with the exact same placemats that I had at home. I told her, and she merely smiled and said, "Of course." Perfect.
Barbara Clemens is a freelance editor and writer, specializing in college software texts.
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