The faded postcard peeked out at me from my desk drawer, and the memories gently unfolded. This was a photo of the quaint old inn in Manchester, Vermont, where my friend and I spent a weekend to celebrate our 50th birthdays (I can’t believe that was fifteen years ago). We were close friends, neighbors whose children played together; it was one of those relationships where it is hard to discern the separation between friends and family.
Karen and I decided that spending a weekend away from the craziness of our everyday lives would be our treat to each other as we turned fifty. We made reservations at The Village Country Inn, and left early Friday evening, the week after Thanksgiving, to enjoy some quiet time in Vermont. The inn was every bit as lovely as the postcard depicted, with each room decorated in its own individual Victorian decor (which was then so popular). On Saturday we were scheduled for a tour of several inns that were close by, all decorated in their Christmas finery. They were all beautiful, though each very different from the others; I was pleased that we were staying where we were, because I thought our inn was the most lovely.
We made our way through the various shops and little antique stores in the area, as well as spending some time back at the inn, enjoying afternoon tea, sitting in the warmth of the bar late in the evening, having a delicious breakfast in their breakfast room with its white-latticed walls, and quietly talking in our own room — how wonderful to be able to sit together and talk without the multitude of interruptions that punctuated our conversations at home. There was a journal in each guest room, where we both wrote entries about ourselves and our stay at the inn. On Sunday, before we left, we purchased pretty delicately-flowered mugs from the inn’s gift shop — somehow, midst the chaos of our lives, we have both managed to save these mugs as a reminder of that lovely weekend.
Little did we know then of the paths our friendship would take, or that we would one day be in-laws, sharing two precious grandchildren. Our lives have moved in different directions, and though we still remain friends, the time we spend together is much more limited. Maybe that is what makes this long-ago weekend so special to me. I am thankful for our long friendship, for the fact that we are now really family, and for this postcard that brought back so many beautiful memories of that lovely weekend in Vermont.