Cheesy, I know, but when I was 18 or 19 I had a hero, a true-to-life, in-the-flesh hero. There were no capes or tingly spidey senses but I swear, my hero could jump tall buildings in a single bound.
Heidi was six years older than me and a traffic engineer, having graduated top of her class at U of T. She worked for a downtown firm, had a great apartment in the city and could make THE best fettucine alfredo. Oh, and did I mention she drove a BMW and drove stick? She was originally my brother's friend from summer lifeguarding but she soon saw my potential and took me under her wing. She's since moved to Australia, got married, had three kids and has climbed in her career down under. In short, she's still my hero.
She left a few days ago to go back to Australia, having visited family and friends, including moi. I hadn't seen her in 14 years. We kept in contact through Facebook, the occasional email and word-of-mouth from other friends. But, as we agreed to meet up at the corner of Bay and Bloor for a Friday night of cocktails and catch-up, I was nervous. What if we, now 14 years later, had nothing in common. We hadn't really communicated that much in the 14 years she'd been in Australia. We'd gone from a friendship of hanging out every weekend to almost no or little contact.
I worried for nothing. I'd taken the subway, leaving the car at Yorkdale (I didn't fancy maneuvering through congested and construction-strewn streets). She had taken the streetcar. I was 10 minutes late and worried that she'd been waiting on the corner outside of The Gap forever. She was 30 minutes late and totally apologetic in between hugs. My hero was here and in the flesh. And, it was like we had never been apart.
That's what true friendships are like, she replied, as I noted that our conversation, our friendship had picked up right where we had left it so many years previous. We may not see each other but that doesn't mean our friendship has ended. Our in-person conversations were just on hiatus. She had put into words exactly what I had been thinking and it was truly amazing.
So, we explored the city she had left behind, stopping to pick up clothes for her Miranda, Toby and Jeremy at Kids' Gap, window-shopping in Yorkville and relaxing over glasses of wine, an amazing gorganzola gnochi and a range of appetizers, both healthy and hearty. We looked at all the buildings and commented on which buildings were still there and which ones had cropped up over the years. We even stopped in at a downtown hotel and had our picture taken on its rooftop patio bar, the CN Tower standing in the distance and the whole city lit up and on display just for us. A sweet man (I use the term man, but he was 15 years younger and yes, I would be a cougar) offered to take our picture and stay for a martini. It was tempting but I had to catch the last subway and she had to catch a cab.
This re-meeting also reminded me of other long friendships I've maintained over the years - the ones that just pick up where you leave them, like a good dog-eared book that you've read over and over again, always discovering something new when you pick it up again. Isn't that what friendship is all about?
Heidi is still my hero, now back in Australia but I know I will always have her heart here in Toronto. My god, I'm a sap!