Two Wednesdays ago I met an old friend. A friend who was tucked inside the memories of my teen years, Catholic high school - all girls. Her face was clear to me, her navy blue blazer and white collared shirt framed by dark curls, but her voice treaded just below the surface. She recently read a mutual friend’s comment about my memoir, saw my picture, said she recognized my smile and so we planned to meet at a diner for lunch. Thirty five, no almost forty years, what would we talk about? She is a writer too. We have that. But those old pangs of embarrassment and shame began interfering with my excitement. I thought they would be gone once the book was written, neatly typed, spell checked and distributed. Then it would be gone. I’d have tidied up that part of my life. The teen pregnancy, dropping out of site. After all, that is a reason for writing a memoir. To tell the story, put it on paper. But I’ve come to understand that it must be retold, and told again on lunch dates like this.
I was the first to arrive and took a seat on the bench by the front door. I studied the faces as each entered, worried we may not recognize each other. But I knew her immediately, her eyes and the voice that eluded me surrounded me with familiarity and we cried. Two women, but somehow still teens. Awkwardness dropped away and stories abounded, tales of lives lived, without each other, but connected still.
I had the baby I placed for adoption.
“I didn’t know what to say to you,” she said.
She had a baby soon after me and had to get married.
“I didn’t know.”
Hiding in my own shame, I could not have known that she was hiding in hers.
But this time, this time we did know what to say. This time there was no shame.