On a warm March day, Felicia and I drive to Kathy’s new house for lunch. We used to live in the same town, but Kathy recently moved twenty miles away. We used to be a solid threesome, unlikely friends in some ways yet consistent in our joys and affection. Then Kathy cut herself off, pronouncing us trivial, gossipy, hypocritical. She recently moved to mend the split, apologizing and explaining it was all her fault, her stuff.
Arriving at her house, we hug and admire the new place. We enjoy the burritos she made and the brownies we brought while catching up on our families, and our plans for the coming months. After lunch, we set out on a walk of the neighborhood. Sixteen years ago, our hikes were daylong treks in our nearby National Forest that would include lunch, and maybe champagne. We would joke about duct taping handsome men to trees so we could have our way with them. But on this day, it’s just the neighborhood we want to explore.
We walk past houses built in the 1940’s and 50’s. We see goats in one yard, purple and pink crocuses in another. We come to a busy thoroughfare and walk back down through a park. We pass a woman who exclaims we have beautiful hair. She must mean the varying shades of silver mixed with the brown, our windblown strands catching in our mouths.
Back on the street, we walk along a fast-flowing creek. A cyclist speeds down the hill, causing us to scurry out of his way. We enter a greenway, muddy in places, and pass joggers, other walkers, and kids smoking pot. We talk about books, our children, our men, and how hard it is to get old and see your friends die off.
“It will happen to us,” Felicia says. “One of us will die first and the other two will be left to deal with it.”
“Yeah, but studies show that friendships keep us healthy and more likely to live a long time,” I add.
The afternoon gets late. Our hair smells like the wind and our jeans are mud-spattered. Circling back to Kathy’s house, we hug again and part ways.
Backing out of Kathy’s driveway, I turn to Felicia. “It’s good, isn’t it? We have it back.”
“Yes,” she agrees, as we pull away and give Kathy one last wave.
Lee Stevens is from Hendersonville, North Carolina