Friends #9-12: Janise, Kevin, Nikki, Dave (and Sarah)

After lunch with Omar, I got to cross the Bay Bridge, which is such an amazing structure!  What an experience driving across the bay with the buildings of downtown San Francisco rising up against the swooping cables of the bridge.

The Bay Bridge from below.

Janise (like Janice, just with an “s”), my best friend in high school, lives in a great neighborhood adjacent to the Giants baseball stadium.  She’s a new mom of 7 weeks, and I met her and daughter Sophia while they were taking a walk and we went to grab a cup of coffee, forgoing Starbucks for a local joint: The Creamery.  Sophia slept while Janise and I caught up on the past several years.  She and I were inseparable in high school.  People said our names in tandem so frequently that they often laughed at how often they also said “Anise and Jan” or “Jan and Anise.”  We would spend the entire day at school together and go home and talk on the phone for an hour or more each night.  When we got our driver’s licenses, we would go for drives and talk or go spy on the houses of boys we (I) liked.  Janise was an amazing flute player, and we were drum majors of the marching band together for 2 years.  But recently, save for a call on her birthday, Janise and I didn’t talk much.  When she called the morning I was in the Bay Area to tell me she was free, her voice on my voicemail brought tears to my eyes.

And there were more tears as I shared some the hard things I’ve gone through in the past few years, of which she was unaware.  Poor thing, it was like I hit her over the head with a baseball bat.  But she and I looked into each other’s tear-filled eyes with a look of knowing and understanding that only a long, deep friendship can afford.  And we laughed, too.  I think we both learned how to throw our heads back and really laugh with each other.  When Sophia started to stir, that brought our time together to a close.

Janise and Sophia and me outside The Creamery.

Janise's daughter Sophia slept quietly, then she looked like this.

I headed back across the bay for dinner in Albany with friends from grad school: Kevin and Nikki and Dave and Sarah.  I was a little late because I was trying to blog at a nearby library.  I am struggling to find a rhythm of driving and socializing and updating.  Nikki had made an amazing dinner of sugar snap pea soup, quinoa and sun-dried tomatoes, and pasta salad.  It’s been 4 years since I saw Kevin and Nikki and Dave (I just met Sarah that night), when they all traipsed up to the Bay Area to work together.  It was fun to dream and brainstorm together again and hear the results of the dreaming and brainstorming we did together a few years back–the ways that they’ve followed what they learned, the ways that they broke out and made their own way.  On top of that, it was a healing time for me.  I had a hard time in grad school, which really wasn’t a mystery to anyone in my program.  The academics were fine.  The social dynamics of my cohort challenged me in ways I didn’t expect.  But the perspective that these friends offered with 4 years of retrospect helped to affirm what I had felt at the time and helped me to take one more step past the pain of some of those experiences and, like Joy showed me earlier that day, choose a perspective of compassion and grace.

Grad school classmates Dave and Kevin and their wives Sarah and Nikki and I all enjoyed dinner together in Albany.

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