The Secret Life of Friends

What happens to a friendship as the years and decades go by? Two women revisit a favorite vacation spot in search of the answer

by Holly Robinson
hands sand image
Photograph: Jim Mangan

Years ago, when my younger son was just out of kindergarten, I brought him to my favorite island beach and watched him run away from me to jump into the surf. His footprints disappeared on the damp pink sand nearly as fast as he made them. I thought then about how transient childhood is and about how soon this boy would be not six but 16, and then 26. I tried to imagine what might happen between now and then, to him and to all of us. I couldn’t.

As Emily and I were walking on that same beach earlier on this last precious day, we had turned to look at our footprints, remarking on how they wouldn’t be there tomorrow or even, perhaps, an hour after we left the beach. The world would have no evidence that we had ever been on this island. Only we would know.

“Well?” Emily said. “What has been the highlight of the trip?”

“You,” I said. “This.”

She laughed, knowing exactly what I meant.

HOLLY ROBINSON is the author of the recently published novel The Wishing Hill and of The Gerbil Farmer’s Daughter: A Memoir.

Next: How to Make Friends at Any Age

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First published in the July/August 2013 issue

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