Paul Simon wrote a beautiful song called “Old Friends”. I thought of it when I got an email from someone in my hometown and she signed her letter, “Your Childhood Friend”. What a sweet, heart warming signature. I’ve moved around the country a lot over the years and haven’t been the best at staying in touch with many of the people from the place I grew up. Some came back into my life after a high school reunion a few years ago and I’m so grateful for them. These are the people who understand the small town where we grew up. They get what it was like living in a town of a thousand people where everyone knew everyone. It was in the days well before any internet or any social media. News traveled in warm kitchens where people gathered over a hot cup of coffee on cold winter mornings or later in the day, in the bars downtown. Neighbors chatted back and forth while hanging clothes on a line outside on a warm summer day. Some things were spoken of in whispers, some were shouted from rooftops. Some things might have been better forgotten entirely but memories die hard and that’s not the way of small towns. My old friends remember what it was like to be in a small high school in the 1960’s, what it feels like to be that same person inside a different body sixty years later. Old friends recall jumping rope while reciting “Mabel, Mabel, set the table” or “Minnie, Minniehaha, went to see her papa,” Those same friends remember playing hide and seek until it got too dark to be outside, skating on the elementary school playground made into an ice rink for kids during the winter, learning to drive, playing at the beach or swimming in one of the nearby lakes. There’s something special about an old friend. Like a precious stone that’s been polished until it’s shiny and smooth and fits just perfectly in your pocket.