The Circle of Life

To me, life is not a straight line. It’s circular and wheels back upon itself. I’ll be peacefully going along . . . going along . . . going along on my customary path, pretty much living in today, when “Pop!” I’m catapulted into a synthesis of my distant past, middle past and the present. That’s a wonderful thing about the human intellect: We are physically bound to the present, but time has no boundaries in our mind.
I have many acquaintances, but few real friends. Relatives may become estranged, and acquaintances move on or drop you. There is no friend like an old friend. The friends that we made during the formative years are always there. no matter how rarely — if ever — we meet. We have a direct line to each other’s hearts. There’s still a bond with my high school girlfriends, the Nine Nifty Nicitinos, and I have never been out of contact with Sarah Ward.
Sometimes fond friends disappear for years and leave a vacancy in one’s life. My best college friend, John Board, and I lost contact for many years after he moved to Montana. Then we became reconnected a few years ago via e-mail, have chatted a few times on the phone, and he even spent a night with Bill and me. Wanda Frazier Smith, my neighbor chum — along with Sarah, my oldest friend — and I became reconnected a few years ago. Our paths had diverged when I went to college, and she came to Indianapolis to work and live.
Bill, Vicki, Tom and I recently spent a weekend at a Michigan lake at the summer home that Bill’s California nieces inherited from his brother and sister-in-law. Clarke relatives from California, Michigan and Indiana have gathered there for a July reunion for several years.
Bill’s niece, Lynn, brought a scrapbook that she started after the family spent a few days at a hotel in Tucson to celebrate the Millennium. The day after we arrived, the women went out to sun by the pool. Bill’s nieces are all “real readers,” as Granny called people who read voraciously..
I said, “Why don’t we start an e-mail book group? We’ll call it “The Happy Bookers.” This was in the early days of e-mail, and we went crazy e-mailing each other. We’d choose a book to read and comment on it and related things.
We all read The Divine Secrets of the Ya-ya Sisterhood, a charming novel about a group of girls in Louisiana. I was amazed when I came across one of the first e-mails that I’d sent in 2000 about a ya-ya who had been my friend. Gigi was a cute, warm-hearted, kind girl whom everybody loved. She moved away, and her loss was a great sadness to me.
She was also Wanda’s close friend, and we often wondered what had become of her. Then Wanda called a year ago. “One of my cousins ran into Gigi and got her telephone number.” The three of us arrived at 11:30 for lunch at the Legend in Irvington, and we had so much to say that we didn’t leave until 4:00! I felt that something that had been missing was restored to me at this new turn of the circle of my existence.
I feel a kinship with the unknown American Indian woman upon whose chant Anita Williams based these lines about the circularity and connectivities of life:
All is a circle within me
I am ten thousand winters old.
I am as young as a new-born flower.
. . . as a tree in bloom.
I have seen the world on fire
And the sky without a moon.
I have gone to the edges of the sky.
Now all is at peace within me.
Now all has a place to call home.