I was sitting in the cafe today taking a break. This guy walked in and I recognized him. I've actually known him for probably the last 10 years, our kids were very close at one time, I did a lot of PTA stuff with his wife. I think the only parental thing that she and I did NOT do together was soccer. And where ever she was, so was he, the perfect suburban dad. They really were like the poster couple for apple pie and all that is Right and Good about the PTA. They always seemed shiny and golden and perfect in that regard.
She and I used to be pretty close but drifted apart quickly when our girls went on to upper grades. But at one time, we spoke every day. We used to hang out at her house because she had a pool, or with another mom who was also a good friend, whose daughter hung with ours. We despaired about their never ending girl politics and the constantly shifting dynamics of our daughters' friendships. Time was, they came over for BBQs and the boys would stand over the grill and poke at meat and make concerned noises at it, and drink beers from the cooler. In fact, any time I grill chicken I think of our old bbq parties and how he used to RUSH to the grill and shoo all the women away from it and then soon a small knot of guys would gather around and stare at the steaks and chicken breasts like they were actually doing something very important.
I asked after my friend today. I haven't spoken to either of them in, oh lord, maybe 4 years. He got really quiet then. Said that they divorced, that she moved out of their home. That they split the kids and are doing the best they can to get by. "It's been hard." he said. There was this look in his eyes that I can't describe, except that it matched the one in my eyes, the one that speaks of loss and of how it hurts when those promises you make fall apart. The look that says it is undescribably hard to let go of your dreams of a shared life and future with someone, but that also says you are surviving and maybe even thriving and goddammit you're not beaten and the kids are okay and life goes on.
I showed him my uber-cool new shoes. He laughed. Then he gave me another hug. "It gets easier." he said. "I promise."
It's weird to me that we have this in common at the same time, after so many years. I'm hoping she comes into the cafe sometime. It's a small area. She might. Or maybe I ought to call her. Maybe we can reconnect.
Life goes on for everyone. Nobody stays frozen in time or place. Some things just throw that into stark relief. Even the things you think are "sure" and that are unshakeable. We are all moving forward together at the same pace, even when we're not touching.