The next morning Lisa and I got up early and set out for Cape Cod. I had printed directions from the computer, but much of the information was missing because the black ink on Lorraine’s computer had run out. Elizabeth had given me directions over the phone as well, so we felt confident about being able to find her place easily. As it turned out, we did fine through Boston, across the bridge, and down the central Cape highway. Then we missed an exit, turned around, and lost our sense of direction. We ended up in the wrong town, looking for the illusive Tar Kiln Road which was to take us to Elizabeth’s. For a few tense moments I could feel Lisa’s good humor draining as she refused to believe we were on the wrong road and drove up and down according to the directions given to us by a fireman who evidently didn’t know the area or was simply pulling our leg. Finally we found some kind-hearted people in a general store who mapped out our route for us, and with soothing candy bars in hand and revived spirits, we headed out again.
Just as we turned onto the longed-for side road, we met Elizabeth driving toward us. She had waited as long as she could, but had to take her dogs to the kennel before noon. We followed her back to her house, then rode with her to the kennel. Kate, the Golden Retriever I had once held as a new puppy, sat beside me as an old dog with a pure white face. She needed a ramp to get out of the car. It seemed impossible that so many years had passed, but I was glad to see her again, glad that the separation from Elizabeth had not gone so long as to outlive Katie. I petted her and she looked content, with huge liquid eyes full of experience and life. Somehow I felt that she remembered me.
I can’t say all that went on inside my head during our visit. It was so complicated, full of thoughts half thought and feelings interrupted, memories partly remembered and overwhelming nostalgia. I could have seen her yesterday for the influence the years had on our meeting again. I was acutely aware that I had toughened myself against missing her, that I had made myself forget what she was to me. Elizabeth, my one and only friend. This may seem a strange thing to say because I have many good friends now, friends without whom I would suffer great loss in the quality of my life. But she and I came together at the right time, in the right place, to form a bond that is nothing short of extraordinary. It’s in the past now, and I mourn the loss of it, but seeing her again lets me know that it is still in the air, a raging potential like distant thunder and a constant comfort like waves lapping the shore.