"Can you believe it?" she tells me outraged in a transatlantic Skype call. "She asked me if I was a grandmother."
This is the culmination of a call with one of my best and oldest friends. We laugh and make scoffing noises, give a virtual shrug to indicate that this question was obviously not serious. We send each other hugs. We hang up.
And so what of it that someone asked her that question. We both turned 50 this year - within two days of each other in fact and yes, ok I'll admit I'm the oldest. Logically, she and I could both have grandchildren - apart from the fact that we both decided that children were not our bag. It's not unheard of - many 50 year old women do. Yet when I speak with her, I don't think of her as this age. I see and hear her as the 18 year old girl that I came to know when we both started secretarial college - see that in itself dates us. Do secretarial colleges even exist anymore? Can you still learn shorthand, typing and office practice?
When I think of her, I still see the girl I knew then - looking a little coy and somewhat vulnerable but acting tough to get through those early years. When I speak to her, I still hear the voice of the girl I knew then. The one who shared her secrets, her dreams and passions and how she wanted life to be. She still does that. It's just that suddenly we've been doing that for over 30 years together. We've seen each other through divorce, relationship highs and lows, transatlantic house moves, career meltdowns, health scares, loss and love. I know her flaws and she knows mine. I've listened to her cry down the phone and she has done the same for me. We've shared birthday celebrations, told each other the truth when neither of us necessarily wanted to hear it, got each other home after too many drinks, listened to tales of exotic holiday trips and everyday routines and laughed when we found out that we'd both bought Doc Martens in our late 40s. We've come a long way and we've most certainly got each others' backs.
So hey - I'm happy to defend her. It really is outrageous that someone could think she might be a grandmother. She's surely not old enough, because after all if she is then I am too!