verge (vʉrj)
the edge, brink, or margin (of something): also used figuratively the verge of the forest, on the verge of hysteria

to tend or incline (to or toward)
to be in the process of change or transition into something else; pass gradually (into) dawn verging into daylight

Monday, February 21, 2011

Conch Chowder

So, this is really incredible.

I heard an odd tapping on my email door the other day and when I opened it to see who was there, everything went silent.  His name was right there in the text, clear as day.  What followed were such distant and familiar words from long, long ago...and for what seemed like a 51 year gasp, I was utterly speechless.  I still am.

We were both born on Key West at the naval base and just days apart. They call us Conchs.  He is the only conch I know.  Instant kinship. Eternal bond. Our families moved often, going in many different directions over many years. It was to become a way of life for both families and we became each other's roots, in a way. From Florida to California to Indiana to Newport to New York to Connecticut to North Carolina to the somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains, we managed to pack and unpack, many times and in many ways.  Our families kept track of each other over time and geography, and in between the moving vans and baby births, reunions took place when possible.

I remember the anticipation of their visits.  A year or two or three might have gone by since the last visit and I would be both nervous and excited.  His mother had a great laugh.  His father, a warm smile. There seemed to be so many sisters!  Avery and I handed down our matching Polly Flinders dresses, which would appear in our family Christmas card one year and then in theirs the next.  Our parents would sit together and roar, laughing.  All of us enjoyed taking advantage of the fact our parents weren't paying very close attention and we would play so freely.  I remember the sense of fun we had. I remember the constancy his family provided, even in the years we didn't see them.

My last visit with M was over 35 years ago.  The mothers say we went in to town together and that I was wearing hoop earrings. Our parents have kept the thread going between themselves, but M and I each travelled to other places as we made our own lives and fell out of touch.  Over the years, I have found myself rolling his name around in my head because hearing it would evoke fond memories and familiarity. He takes me back to deepest roots.

I look forward to hearing more of his travels and life.  This reunion is the sweetest one of the last fifty-one years.  He is a true life-time friend and my one and only Key West Conch.

To M...I have a conch shell under the snow in my garden.  Always close.

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