Tag Archives: marie

And they lived to tell about it

As we walked into the admissions office of Wesleyan University yesterday morning, Dean looked at the rain clouds  and wondered if any statistics were kept on what the weather was like the day students who applied to certain schools visited for the first time. If more were likely to apply if the weather was good and fewer if the weather was bad. Given  yesterday’s weather and if students chose their schools based on the weather the day of the visit, both schools we visited yesterday would have lost several potential applications. It was horrible and all of us (excepting Rupert who was snug and warm in my waterproof purse) were wet to the skin by the time each tour was over.

Andrew loved Wesleyan University (as did I). We had an excellent tour guide (Wesleyan admissions folks, in case you monitor blog mentions about your school, the tour was the March 29, 9 am tour  and our guide was the woman who was on the played rugby) and, despite the lousy weather, got a great sense of what the school was all about.

After a delicious lunch at a sandwich shop in town possibly called Brew Bakers, we headed towards New London and Connecticut College. On the way we saw signs for Gillette Castle State Park, and recalling a happy visit there with a friend who lived in Bridgeport in the 1980’s, thought we could spare a few minutes to drive past the castle so Andrew could see it.

It took much longer than we expected to find the state park, and even longer to drive to the castle, which was closed, but since it was raining and we were already wet from the tour, didn’t consider getting out of the car anyway.

Our trusty GPS took us through back roads to New London, which would have been fine — we had plenty of time before the tour — had the local rivers not been flooding. Did I mention there were flood warnings in Connecticut yesterday?

The car rounded a bend and we were dismayed to see the road ahead was flooded. I was ready to turn back and retrace our steps, but Dean drove on, deaf to my squeals of “OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD” and Andrew’s echos of “ohmygodohmygodohmygod”. The Highlander made it easily through the first part of the flooded road, but we could feel the pull of the water in the second half as the wheels began to lose contact with the road. All the time I was thinking about the warnings to NEVER drive through a flooded road and wondering if the fences on the side of the road were strong enough to hold our truck from being plunged into the pond on the other side.

We did make it through the flooded road, but Dean realized after that he should never have driven into it. We all have different opinions of how deep it was. I said 8 inches. Dean thinks 6. Andrew thought 4.

We made it to Connecticut College with no more mishaps and Dean had time for a nap before the tour.

This time we were given plastic ponchos with Connecticut College logos on them. Dean and I opted to wear ours. Andrew chose to not. Andrew looked much less silly than we did, but we kept reasonably dry. The tour group was smaller than the one at Wesleyan, but instead of stopping and talking to the group the Connecticut College tour guide walked backwards while talking and, unless you were in the very front, could not hear her over the sound of rain on the poncho hoods.

I felt nothing of the excitement I’d felt for Wesleyan. The campus was pretty enough, but I preferred the architecture of Wesleyan over Connecticut. Andrew preferred Wesleyan as well.

We had just enough time to check into our hotel in Raynham, Massachusetts before we needed to head out to meet our friend (and my matron of honor) Marie for dinner. She’d not known of a place to eat around where we were staying except for an outlet mall with chain restaurants. While we’re not so big on chain restaurants, we noted that there was a Timberland shoe store among the outlet stores, and Andrew had been wanting a pair of Timberland boots for a while.  Dean found a couple of pairs of shoes as well.

Dinner with Marie was wonderful. We’d not seen her since the summer before she and Neal divorced about 5 years ago. This was the longest we’d gone without seeing her since we met in 1981. We used to visit Neal and Marie at least once ever couple of years and they would visit us occasionally. Despite not having seen her for so long, I always consider her one of my best friends.

Today we visit Wheaton College and Tufts University. The rain is not going to be quite as bad, but I imagine we’ll still get wet.

Ok, breakfast….

Memories in the laundry room

Isn’t it funny how seeing (or smelling or tasting or hearing) certain things makes you always think about certain people, places or events in your life? I’m like that about the most mundane of objects – especially in the laundry room. Folding towels makes me think of my mom. Cleaning lint from the dryer makes me think of my friend Chris. A wooden clothes drying rack makes me think of my friend Marie.

I met Marie in the early 1980’s when her husband, Neal, and my boyfriend, Dean, shared an office at Carnegie Mellon University. She was a nursing student. She was also a birder before it was a popular or even accepted pastime. We did a lot of things with Neal and Marie in Pittsburgh until they moved back to Rhode Island. I was heartbroken. I’d not had a friendship like the one I had with Neal and Marie since — well, probably since forever.

We kept in touch and visited them a lot. We spent Easter with Marie’s boisterous Italian family and met Neil’s brother and his wife. I considered Marie one of my closest friends and asked her to be my matron-of-honor at my wedding. She and Neal flew to Illinois for the wedding and even accompanied us and our friend Paul to Wisconsin for our first honeymoon.

Over the years we’ve visited them probably once a year on average – perhaps a little less. They visited us a few times, but not as much as we did them. We rejoiced at the births of their children and they did the same for ours.

Marie and I had a few differences – I remember that we disagreed on whether or not a teacher who had no children could be as empathetic as those with children. As a child free teacher then, I thought I was as empathetic as one with kids. (Later– after my own daughter was born — I agreed with Marie and told her so.) We also had a bit of a falling out when I suggested she see a movie instead of a play of some play we’d just seen. I didn’t mean anything by it – knowing that their life was so busy with their children. It got her upset though.

The last time I saw Marie was at her Newport Beach beach house when we visited them for a few days. The room Dean and I shared had a collapsible wooden clothes-dryer and I remember Marie coming in the room one day, folding it up and putting it away. I remember thinking that one of those might be handy to have. The day we left I had a monstrous hangover from way too much wine at a party they had the night before.

We planned on visiting them again the next summer but about a month before we were to go Marie emailed us that she and Neal had separated and would probably divorce. She was shocked too, but doing ok. She said we could still visit, but it might be uncomfortable.

I was beyond shocked. I was devastated. It was like a dear friend had died. NealandMarie was dead. It was now Neal or Marie. Not that we needed to make a choice, but it felt like that. We couldn’t make a choice. So we’ve not seen either of them. We’ve both communicated with Marie through email and telephone conversations and I IMed Neal a couple of times. They both say they are friends and we should feel free to go visit — we could see both of them.

Perhaps it is the divorce, or perhaps it is just the busy life we have with two teenagers and aging parents, but New England is no longer somewhere we first think about visiting when we are thinking of vacation plans.

The last I heard from Marie, she said she was seeing someone and was doing well. I’m glad. She is still one of my all-time favorite people and always will be. I’ll always consider her one of my best friends, even if we never see each other again.

So, on days when I have a lot of clothes that cannot go in the dryer, I think about Marie and our friendship and sometimes I cry a little, but usually I smile remembering the good times we had.