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An old friend stayed with us for a couple of days last week. April was visiting her brothers in Vermont and flew down for the weekend. We had been good friends in San Francisco, but that was over 20 years ago. Time flew and we had changed. What was gray hair now was then brown. We were undoubtedly middle-aged.

April was at our wedding and at the hospital for the birth of our first daughter. We flew back to California for her wedding to Jim, which took place on a hilltop in Marin County overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There was drumming and West Coast hippie celebration, some kind of native American vibe that was cool and caring. As we used to say about church – I came to scoff but stayed to pray.

Earlier this summer we met April in North Beach in San Francisco when we went west to be at Eric’s deathbed and to arrange his affairs as best we could. Even in the swamp of emotions that my wife felt for her younger brother’s sudden death, it was good to spend time with April in a little Italian café on Columbus Avenue. She had taken the train across the Bay from El Cerrito where she and Jim had bought a house some years ago. There was hardly anybody we knew who could afford to live in San Francisco anymore.

In those days we frequently had parties at our little railroad flat on Fair Oaks Street between Noe Valley and the Mission, two of the sunnier neighborhoods in the city. We would crowd 15 or 20 people into the living room and kitchen with lots of good food and wine, and we would carry on long and serious conversations about books and politics, philosophy and poetry. They were the kinds of conversations I have not had in a long time.

April remembered those parties with fondness more than 20 years after the events described and recalled them to us on her visit. I miss those old friends even now. I liked all of them. They were all smart, but not full of themselves. They were good companions and kind hearts, and I wish them well.

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