We first met because our children (we each had one, and never had another) were in a private nursery school. We lived in a high-rise building in a large city, and when the time came, and the building became a condominium, we bought our apartments. We were a little rueful about it, about being forced by a circumstance we hadn't planned on, but agreed we didn't have much of a choice. We were city dwellers, after all, and where would we go?
We never thought about whether we were compatible; we simply spent a lot of time together. We shopped the A&P and Zabar's. We went to Saks and Bloomie's and Barney's. We had snatched conversations about what we were reading—she Henry James, I biographies. And because our husbands, both of them on the Street, got along, we sometimes went up to our house or theirs in the country for weekends. Sometimes we went together for brief ten-day vacations. When one of us went abroad, the other semi-sat the other's apartment, and we always passed on notes on the foreign hotels and restaurants. Our husbands also checked out the golf courses for one another.
We had separate friends too, of course, and when we mixed them, infrequently, things went well. We were all foodies—their friends and ours—and subscribers to the symphony and the ballet and the theatre, and we all tended to vote pretty much the same way, regardless of party affiliation.
Over the years, although our children had the usual fallings out, they remained friends, and clung to their shared past. When they went away to college—a boy (mine) and a girl (hers)—we were an enormous support for one another, as we always had been during our mostly stable, but worn marriages.
There was a great deal we never had to put into words, our mutual understanding and sympathy was so absolute. I am small and beginning to appear spare rather than slender, and the gray shows in my dark hair. I warmed myself at her warmth, my tall fair-haired friend, whose gray was hidden in her blondeness, and who never lost her grace. I supplied her with all the warmth I had to give; I could not imagine my life without her.
When she threw herself out the window of our high-rise condo, I went into a freeze for quite a while before the terrible shock set in. It was only when the pain finally took over that I knew I had to realize something: that I had skipped some necessary piece of information about our lives. What had the clues been? What had I been blind to?
All the rest of my life, which I can hardly begin to think of without her, I will be searching, of course, for where the slippage had been.