On Sunday, I drove Ian and a fellow student named Hunter back to MICA.  We took Route 1, the old pre-I-95 road that ran from Maine to Florida, which was much more charming and much cheaper than the toll-filled alternative.   And it’s almost a direct shot from our home to the campus – literally just one or two turns once in Baltimore.

After moving Ian back in, and making the obligatory Safeway run to refill his larder, on I drove – not back home, but down to Chevy Chase to visit a dear college friend, Melissa.  Or Missy, as most of us from those days still call her.

Missy has endured a terrible 2010.  She has run a physical gauntlet that is beyond belief, and, to great rejoicing, survived. 

So the visit was not just a visit, but a celebration of her spirit.  Of her triumph over almost unbelievable adversity.

Missy and her fabulous husband Tom had prepared a heart-warming feast of corn chowder, with sides of baguette, cornichons, salami, and goat cheese rolled in pepper.  It was a chilly January night, and they suggested we eat by the fire. 

What a memorable feast.  We compared notes on our aging parents, our young children, our siblings who live everywhere from France to Colorado.   Missy knows my brother Tom as Tommy – he was 10 when she first met him – and I know her sister Suzanne as Suzy – she was 9 when I first met her.  Both Tommy and Suzy are now the accomplished, 40-something parents of 3. 

Missy and her husband Tom cracked me up with their characterizations of life, people, and events, as their children swirled around us.  Late at night, not yet talked out but too tired to continue, we finally all went off to sleep.

In the morning, we moved back to the fireside after breakfast, where they swaddled Christmas ornaments in bubble wrap, talked about how the dog needs a bath, begged their youngest child to leave some clementines for the rest of the family, poured endless cups of breakfast tea, told me their stories, and listened to mine.

Nothing warms the heart like time spent with old friends. 

New Year’s Resolution:  do this more often in 2011. 

And a very Happy Birthday on Friday, Missy!

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