Monday, January 9, 2017

Friends Forever

I've been going to the same dentist practice for about 25 years, and although the office location, personnel, and technology have changed over the years, it never fails that I run into someone I know in the waiting room. Such was the case this afternoon when the cold wind swept me into the lobby after a 20 minute walk from school.

"Tracey!" I heard my name and looked to the receptionist who was not looking at me. "Is it you?"

A guy and his teenaged son were the only other patients in the waiting room, and I recognized them right away. I started my teaching career with Colin and his son was a student at our school until last year. Colin stood up and gave me a great big hug.

"You're all checked in!" the receptionist told me, and I plopped down next to my friend and loosened my scarf. It had been a long time since I'd seen him. Colin took the administrative track early on in our careers, and now he was a well-respected principal at an elementary school on the north side. I looked at him and shook my head. Despite the years with their inevitable hardships and tragedies, he still had the same gap-toothed grin of the silly trickster he was.

I flashed back to my phone ringing on a Saturday morning in the mid-90s. "Hello?" I answered.

"This is Governor George Allen calling for the teacher of the house. Is she home?"

I was confused and literally speechless until laughter broke the silence. "It's Colin!" he said. "I have a question about school."

Today we chatted amiably but aimlessly. It's hard to fill in years of gaps in five minutes in a waiting room, so we talked about school construction and his older son's college classes. All too soon they called my name. I stood and turned to Colin, but before I could say anything too mushy he spoke first.

"Give her a big shot in the gums!" he called to the hygienist.

I giggled and followed her to the back.

"Do you know that guy?" she asked with concern.

"Yep!" I told her.

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