“Any chance you have friends who are like… nine or ten years old?” Mark asked me before going to France.
“Mark! Do the math! I had friends who were nine or ten when I was nine or ten. Most of my friends now are in their thirties or forties.”
“Oh… yeah, I see.”
“My high school friend’s daughter must be nine or ten now, actually,” I added.
“Okay, perfect. When can we see her?”
“It’s… not that easy.”
“Why? Just call her!”
Gee, thank you, Mark. But really, it’s not that easy to reconnect with high school friends you haven’t seen in years and with whom you kind of lost touch.
My friend and I met in grade 8 and we were in the same class until we graduated from high school. We spent a lot of time together doing what teenage girls do—trying on makeup, going out, skipping class, smoking cigarettes, kissing guys we weren’t that into and dreaming of kissing guys we really had a crush on, talking about the future and what we would do after high school.
She had plans and so did I—this is how we lost touch. She moved to Paris, became a lawyer and met her now husband. I went travelling, moved to Canada and met Feng. We both kind of lived the life we wanted but since we had different dreams, our paths stopped intersecting after high school.
I’m the one she called when she lost her virginity. She’s the one who went to pick me up at the airport in Paris when I came back from my first three-month-long backpacking trip with Feng in 2002. She was this kind of friend.
I held her one-month-old daughter in my arms when Feng and I visited Paris in 2010.
She met Mark when we came to France in 2013. She was just moving back to her childhood town just outside Nantes, daughter and husband in tow. “Bigger houses, better quality of life than in Paris,” she had shrugged.
We were very close but we just don’t email each other often.
Okay, we never email each other. That’s just not how our friendship works.
Case in point, when we arrived in Nantes, I realized the latest email address I had was an old Hotmail address—surely, she must have switched to Gmail or something.
So I text the last cellphone number I found. “I’m not sure it’s still your number… but if it is, I wanted to tell you we were in Nantes and I’d love to see you.”
“Fancy a trip to the countryside?” she texted back a few minutes later.
And this is how on Saturday Mark and I took the train to Clisson, a cute town just outside Nantes.
“Does she live far from here?” Mark asked.
“No idea. Her parents’ restaurant used to be close to the train station,” I added. “But I haven’t been here in… 19 years.”
“Is she driving to pick us up?”
“No idea. Last time I saw her, she didn’t have a licence.”
“Is her kid here?”
“Is the house far?”
“I HAVE NO IDEA!”
And this is when my friend showed up in a car. She had her licence now.
We drove to her place. She also had another surprise. Her daughter was on the couch, playing with a tablet. And in the kitchen nehind her husband was a young kid.
My friend smiled.
“Mark… meet Marc. Marc, meet Mark.”
Her second child she had five years ago—I had no idea although I did suspect she would have two children. The name was another fun surprise.
The three kids when to play and we caught up.
Later in the afternoon, we all went to the Hellfest “park.” Clisson hosts one of Europe’s biggest yearly metal festivals and the site is open year-rond so you can take a stroll around the… ahem, metal-themed structures. I had no idea it was open to the public and it was a fun tour.
We had a good day.
I think we’re still friends.