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Learning a long-held secret after 50 years of friendship – Orange County Register

Anytime now, my phone will ring and Linda will sing “Happy Birthday” to me, a tradition we started more than a half-century ago when we were college roommates. Over the years, we have shared all our dreams and secrets. Or so I thought.

Last month, when I called her for her birthday she revealed a long-held secret. She never thought we would become friends. As Linda told the story, when we met on campus the first day of school, freshman year, I was wearing white gloves.

“You looked so sophisticated; I thought, ‘I’ll never get to know her. She won’t be interested in me. ‘”

Linda was the first to know when I fell in love with my French teacher and secretly fantasized that he might be interested in me. She did not laugh or remind me that every woman in the class felt that way.

Her calm approach to life’s problems was a trait I coveted from the day we met when I couldn’t get my trunk through the door and she repositioned it to work. She was the cool head to my sometimes over-the-top views. As I admired her steadiness, Linda liked my adventurous spirit.

After college, Linda started teaching at a junior high school in Virginia and I went to New York to write. Although she had let me know she was unhappy teaching, when she called one night in tears I suggested she come to New York and explore new career possibilities. To my surprise, she actually came. She was so bright she found interesting work easily and we began a new adventure as roommates again.

This one took us on a long dreamed-about trip to Europe. On the plane ride, while I nervously fidgeted, Linda calmly sipped a glass of wine and we talked away the 7-hour flight.

“In case the plane goes down, I do not want to die without telling you this story,” I said.

“Patty, the plane is not going to crash but I’d love to hear your story.”

By the time we landed in London, we joked that we probably knew everything about each other there was to know.

Not quite, it turned out.

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