One day, soon after we moved to the city, I was at home still unpacking cartons when the doorbell rang. I opened the door to a young woman about my age.
“Welcome to the building!”, Celia said introducing herself. “I’m baking and believe it or not, I’ve just run out of sugar. May I borrow a cup?”
I invited her in and over tea we discovered that Celia and my husband grew up in the same Queens neighborhood, and had gone to Brandeis together where they had been friends — small world!
Celia and Danny renewed their college friendship and over the years Celia and I became very close. When we were away she fed our cat, when she was out we walked her dog, and Celia kept her Gauloises cigarettes in our fridge in an effort to quit smoking. Both of us were night owls and we shared hundreds of what we came to call our late-at-night cups of tea. We drank them in her apartment or in mine, sometimes with her home-baked madeleines, and often at a VERY late hour.
Then she met Dick.
When the guy became a fixture in Celia’s life we fell for him too, and soon we were a happy foursome. At their wonderful Harvard Club wedding I cried. But I wasn’t just shedding tears of joy for the happy couple. Dick lived in Princeton where he ran a publishing house, and Celia would be giving up her Manhattan apartment to move there.
So some of those tears were selfish ones. I knew Jersey wasn’t so far, and I’d never lose Celia’s friendship, but I knew I’d surely miss my just-down-the-hall, there-whenever-we-needed-each-other friend.
And I knew I’d miss those late-at-night cups of tea.
Dana Susan Lehrman