AUGUST 1976

Janet Thompson stood in the kitchen of her home on Garland Avenue, putting the finishing touches on the cherry pie she was bringing over to Susan's for their weekly bridge night. She was really rather surprised that Susan had suggested re-kindling bridge night at the end of the summer. Susan and Janet had seemingly lost a bit of their once-strong relationship with the arrival of the Deckers, whose arrival brought more than just new neighbors. Janet supposed Susan's proposal had something to do with the fact that summer was pretty much over, and soon would be the Deckers' pool parties as well. Regardless, Janet was happy to spend time with her best friend. In addition, it would be good for BJ to be able to spend some time with Ricky. The Millers' son had seemed rather depressed to Janet ever since his friend? Girlfriend? Whatever she was, had left to live with her cousin. Something about her mother going into rehab? Janet didn't like to be one to gossip, but she'd heard a great deal about it from Susan since it was affecting BJ so.

Pausing to think about BJ's situation, it was hard for Janet to fathom that BJ was growing up and would be entering high school in the fall. This, of course, meant her son, Rick, would be as well. It seemed like only yesterday to Janet that she had and Susan had been sending off BJ and Rick for their first day of kindergarten. How fast would the next four years pass? She didn't even want to think about it. She was so glad that BJ and Rick had stayed so close. A few weeks ago, they had gotten into a bit of a fight regarding Samantha, actually, recalling the talk she had with Rick at the Millers'. How proud she had been of Rick after that conversation. He had a lot to learn, but Janet could clearly see the changes that had taken place over that fateful summer.

Thinking about Rick at his tender age took her back to her teenage years. Unlike Susan, she hadn't met her future husband until she was out of college and working in the mailroom for The Chicago Tribune. Roger Thompson had been one of the delivery men on the weekends, and after a bet from a co-worker that Roger wasn't her type, Janet, being the ever-competitive woman she was, proved that co-worker wrong and ended up marrying Roger after a year of dating. To her, the family she and Roger had created was just perfect. She was completely satisfied.

Thinking about the whole drama between Rick, BJ, and Samantha that summer, she wondered what the standards were for kids these days. When she had married Roger, she had no doubt n her mind that he was the right one for her. She wondered if BJ and Samantha felt that as well, or all this was still just a part of their duty of drama as teenagers. The conversation that she had with Rick a few weeks before again popped into her head. If Janet's son was capable of surprising her like that, then surely BJ was just as mature.

She snapped out of her thoughts as Rick and BJ entered through the kitchen door.

"Mom, can we go downtown to the new record shop?" Rick asked. "We're going to meet some kids in the neighborhood there."

"Of course, Rick," Janet answered, happy to see that Rick was making some new friends before he started high school. Hoping that she wouldn't embarrass BJ by asking, she cautiously added, "How is Samantha doing, BJ? Have you heard from her?"

BJ looked a little surprised, but answered that she was fine nonetheless. "I just got a letter from her yesterday."

"Great. That's great. Well, run along now," Janet urged, hoping to dispel the awkwardness that Rick was sure to make a comment on in seconds. As she watched the two boys head out the door and gather their bikes, she thought about how lucky she and Susan were to have such great kids who were happy with their lives. She was suddenly very excited for Trina's baby to arrive in April. "How life goes on!" she thought with a smile.