Among the things I miss most about my former work life are a few really good friends. After working closely with some of them for over 25 years, I find myself yearning for that day to day contact, sharing the up’s and down’s of each other’s lives, and working on projects together. When I retired, I had no doubt that I would stay in touch with my closest friends; however, I underestimated the loss of that daily contact. It takes effort to set up lunch dates and even phone calls when no longer coworkers. In my ideal fantasy world, I would have my own office where I would see my pals at the beginning of each day over coffee and at the end of the day to share our stories. Sometimes we’d also have lunch. (The time in between I don’t really want to do any work; hence, this is my fantasy world.)
Which is why last Sunday I was in heaven. I decided to invite my former work group to my house for a holiday multi-tasking party. I reckoned since I’m not working, I’d decorate my house early and we could bake, wrap and address cards together. I remember being under such stress this time of year, with much to do, and my idea was to provide a festive environment where we could complete tasks together. As it happened, because it is such a busy season, only my good friend John could join me.
But, oh, did we have fun! John and I baked cookies together. For SIX hours. We planned our recipes during the course of the week and coordinated our ingredients. On Sunday morning, we plotted our cookie strategy and then made adjustments to our project plan (oops, we forgot to take the 14 sticks of butter out of the fridge to soften) and more adjustments (oops, we hadn’t read the part about chilling the dough for several hours). We helped each other by holding bowls and spatulas and measuring ingredients. And we made SIX recipes together. We talked and we laughed and we invented inside jokes about our baking adventure (“those damn pecan balls!”). During the course of the following week, we texted gags to each other about our cookies. Very little of our conversation was about work.
In some ways it was just like the old days working together on a joint project. But in other ways, it is a delightful new relationship that transcends our work history. By carving out a block of time for our friendship (my husband watched football in the other room while we worked and John’s partner was visiting his mother) we underscored its importance in our changed circumstances. We did more than bake cookies together. We created new memories and a new tradition for our friendship.