My girlfriend Rachel from sixth grade up lives in Asheville, North Carolina, where she finishes quilts in she and her husband’s historic home.  Our friendship has lasted nearly 50 years.

Friends are friends because they share a lot in common. For us, we believed ourselves to be misfits in school. We cared little for being “popular,” though we did wish to be liked. We graduated from high school never having had a boyfriend, though we had crushes.

And we always had talents — she with sewing, me with knitting.  We played in the high school band together — she French horn, me flute.

Rachel has an irreverent sense of humor that eases a person’s load and attracts people to her. It gives me comfort to hang around her, poking fun at the seriousness in the world.

And though when doing so she laughs, underneath, she also feels troubled at times, as I do. So we’re able to share that commonality which binds us even more closely as friends.

After school, she moved up to North Carolina and I out to California. For years, we hand wrote long letters to each other, mainly before my children became my focus and I had little time to write.

She and I have visited each other at our homes on opposite ends of the continent over the years. The last time we met up was in summer 2012 when Jack and I met up with Dale and Rachel arriving on a train in Wales. The four of us rented a narrowboat and lived on it for a week.

After witnessing Jack and Dale at odds with  each other on how to steer the boat, we decided we would start taking separate vacations.

So, next week, I will be gone, out exploring Silver City, New Mexico, with Rachel, and catching up with my dear friend.

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