With our departure plans solidifying, we find ourselves wanting to fit in as much time as possible with local friends. So when Kathy and Robin suggested a weekend campout at the beach, we immediately responded Yes! And that was before we read the weather report, which promised a record-breaking flash of summer in January.
We’ve been camping with Kathy and Robin since our kids were wearing water wings, and our comfort requirements have adjusted in tandem. When we bought our teardrop, they upped the ante with a T@da trailer, then last year traded up to an Airstream Bambi that made our teardrop look like a canvas pup tent. We’ve finally outdone them, though. “Who’s puny now?” I shouted out the window when we pulled our rigs side by side.
We went to Washburn State Park, between Florence and Yachats on the coast. We got there at noon, expecting an empty campground, but apparently the rest of Oregon had also checked the weather report. Saturday was warm, if cloudy, and Sunday it was a balmy, brilliant 72. The beach is a short hike away, and it was filled with incredulous weekenders. Kids in swim suits, dogs running free, pale-skinned grownups with heads lifted and arms outstretched. Hey, this is Oregon. This is January. Did somebody forget to tell the beach?
This was just what we needed. No chore list, no stacks and boxes, no errands to run. Just glorious weather, incredible landscapes, and our dear, dear friends. We have known Kathy for nearly 25 years and Robin for the last 22. We’ve raised our kids together, camped and vacationed together, shared holidays. Two years ago, we celebrated our respective anniversaries together (30 and 20) with an Olivia cruise to the Caribbean.
A look at our family photo albums show years of shared adventure and fun. But in fact, the true mortar of our friendship is all the hard stuff we’ve been through together. My mother’s slow demise with Alzheimer’s was only a step ahead of Kathy’s mother’s capture by Parkinson’s. We were there for their 10-year-old’s heart surgery and Robin’s uterine cancer. They stood by us while Kate’s mother lost her battle with ovarian cancer. They coached both corners during our rough patch, and talked us through our daughter’s coming out as transgender. When our son lost an eye to a BB gun one December, we came home from our days at the Portland children’s hospital to find they had cleaned our house, set up a Christmas tree, and stocked the fridge with homemade meals.
This is what friendship is all about, and when I look at the other deep friendships we’ve maintained over the years, they all share that component. We know each other’s deepest secrets; we’ve felt each other’s pain. And that runs through all the good times that we share.
There will be no other friendships like these. Undoubtedly we will make new friends, some good ones. But at this point in our lives, they will be built more on story-telling than shared experience. And with story-telling, you can parse out parcels as you see fit, sculpt a history to suit an audience. It’s hard to imagine that any new friend could really know us. At least not like the friends we have now.
So here’s to the deep, rich friendships we cherish. As we travel the country this year, we take you in our hearts. And we will always come back around to us.