One of the harder things about living overseas is the lack of opportunity to spend time with old friends. We've made some really lovely friends here in L.A. but sometimes there is nothing like hanging out with someone who knows your backstory and every little detail; someone who you don't have to do the whole 'getting to you know you' chit chat.
Last night, we had an old friend over for dinner, and it was so good to reminisce about past misadventures together, and catch up on news. D lives in Portland but used to live next door to us in Sydney, when J and I first moved back after largely spending our 20s elsewhere. When the Faery was born, D and her husband B were the first to bring us batches of home-made enchiladas and Thai green curry. Their second child was born six weeks later and I tried to return the favour but I'm pretty sure my cooking was only half as good.
Over the years that we spent living side by side, I learned - for the first time in my life - what it was like to have awesome neighbours. Impromptu barbecues, with the gates to our shared (back) lane left open to run between the two homes, were a part of life there. So were communal baths for the kids while we cracked open another bottle of wine. D and B were the kind of neighbours that most people could only dream of having, and over time we stopped calling each other neighbours - we were more than that, we were friends. Are friends.
Of course, life happens and we were unable to stay in that tiny rented house forever. Likewise, D and B made the leap of moving to Portland (D's hometown). Less than a year later, we found ourselves in L.A. All this time later, there have been thoughtful handmade Valentine gifts in the mail (for the Faery and Miss Pie), Skype chats, and the odd family rendez-vous when schedules and finances permitted.
Happily, we were able to welcome D to our place for dinner last night. She's in town briefly, and none of us wanted to pass up the chance to eat, drink and be merry. The Faery was beside herself with excitement, as D is like a favourite aunt to her. Miss Pie didn't remember her from the last time we all got together, but she instantly attached herself to D... and what we love about D is that she showers our kids with the same love and attention she does her own.
Eventually, the girls were put to bed and J, D and I were able to get down to the proper nitty-gritty of catching up and family gossip, along with the inevitable comparisons of life in Australia versus life in the US. The uncomplicated familiarity between us was something I haven't felt for a while, and made me wish I could have more nights like this with old friends... but rather than dwelling on the geography that gets in the way of so many of my friendships, I went to bed feeling reinvigorated, my soul recharged.
Also? A little tipsy...