Friday, April 11, 2008

A New Friend

The Historic Distillery District, Toronto

I met a woman in a writing group. We found it so very odd here in Toronto, Canada, that growing up we had lived a couple of miles from each other in Cork City, Ireland. And never crossed paths. We knew people in common, small cities will do that to you. One degree of separation.

And we like each other’s writing.

I invited her to my annual Ladies’ Brunch but we really didn’t get to know each other there, too many people. And now she invited me to dinner in her place. A lovely place down by the old Distillery District in Toronto. She lit a log fire and had made pasta and salad and apple crumble. My dog was invited too. And her dog and my dog had dinner together out of the same big bowl. My dog has never done that before. It was like something out of The Lady and the Tramp as my dog is rather glam in appearance and her dog is a wheaten terrier.

We talked ourselves silly for seven hours. Life stories: relationships, our adult children, our failed marriages, our evolution as women of independent thinking, as writers, as mothers, as entrepreneurs.

Somehow, when you hear your own life in your ears and can touch and smell and see it for someone new and you in turn embrace theirs, it becomes like a meditation. You think: holy crow, I did all of that? You think: I survived that? I, a woman raised to be a mother and a wife before all else accomplished so much more? On my own I forged a different path? Where on earth did I get the gumption? What a hell of a nerve I had. To think I would succeed. To think I could have it all.

And we sit back and look at each other at the end of the night. And we recite Padraic Colum's “The Old Woman of the Road” * to each other and say: “Now let’s take the dogs for a walk at midnight”. And we do.

O, To have a little house!
To own the hearth and stool and all!
The heaped up sods upon the fire,
The pile of turf against the wall!

To have a clock with weights and chains
And pendulum swinging up and down!
A dresser filled with shining delph,
Speckled and white and blue and brown!

I could be busy all the day
Clearing and sweeping hearth and floor,
And fixing on their shelf again
My white and blue and speckled store!

I could be quiet there at night
Beside the fire and by myself,
Sure of a bed and loth to leave
The ticking clock and the shining delph!

Och! but I'm weary of mist and dark,
And roads where there's never a house nor bush,
And tired I am of bog and road,
And the crying wind and the lonesome hush!

And I am praying to God on high,
And I am praying Him night and day,
For a little house—a house of my own—
Out of the wind's and the rain's way.


  1. Yes, it's funny how we only fully appreciate how much we've achieved when we're recounting it all to someone else! We take for granted so much of what we've done until we're prompted to take a fresh look at it.

  2. what a magical evening! what wonderful serendipity!

    and...i know that poem, too. i woulda fit right in. me and the dogs....

    that is so cool.

  3. Sounds like you met a real kindred spirit. I too remember that poem from my very young school days.

  4. Nick:
    We tend to minimize or forget, a new friend is a great opportunity to find a whole heap of gratitude.
    I just KNOW you and the dogs would have been more than welcome!
    it is sure a gift to make a new friend when we are older. And the poem was like an Amen.

  5. There is much feeling and emotion in this post. It takes my breath away.

  6. Lovely that you got together at last, WWW! It sounds such a comfortable friendship - the kind I describe as being like a pair of old comfortable shoes - so easy to slip into. :-)

  7. I've often thought that we don't really know what we think, until we have actually said it out in words, out loud or on the page. It's the same with our achievements - we don't know we have any till we tell someone else. Good.

  8. Irene:
    Thank you. I am touched.
    T: Nail on the head, absolutely.
    OF: So true, our lives can be blurry until we recount them for someone new.

  9. What a sweet thing the two of you created, my friend. It's as if you already knew each other and were reconnecting after years apart. I love this post.

  10. Thank you Verna. It was very special.


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