I have thought a lot about this post.
I mean, A LOT.
Usually when I write, I just sort of notice that a thought is fleeting through my tiny brain. I grab my laptop, jot things down, hit publish and call it done.
Not this time, though.
This blog post is SERIOUS business. There will be editing for a change.
I need to get this right!
Because I have reached a new point in my writing life: this time the people I’m writing about are probably going to read my words.
And I really, really want to get it right this time! I really want to capture my thoughts and my emotions because I am pretty damn sure that I am getting very, very close to discovering the meaning of life.
The reason for our existence.
The source of longevity, health and true joy.
Let me back up a bit, if you don’t mind.
We found each other when we were still children. We were in classrooms together. We sat at the same lunch tables. We went on field trips, played on teams, shared pajama parties and crushes and dances and dates.
We were friends.
When we were 17, we thought that those friendships would last forever. How could they not? When you watch people grow up, you know them at an almost cellular level. When you share experiences like first kisses, first beers, first hangovers, secret cigarettes and adolescent rebellion, you feel like you’ve got so much info on each other that your lives will always be entwined.
But time went on for us, as it always seems to do. We headed for colleges and jobs and marriages and kids and moves and travel and illness. We grew up, we found other connections, we tried on different lives. We became our serious grown up selves, and that was a very good thing for all of us! We had good lives, all of us. We were lucky. We were mostly happy. We persevered.
And years flew by.
We no longer thought of each other every day, or even every month. We didn’t know each other’s children. We no longer knew each other.
We thought that we had somehow become different.
I shouldn’t speak for the others, but I know that I believed myself to have become completely changed from the girl I once was, even though I had happily married one of that very group. I believed that I’d become different from my past, from those teen aged friends. I believed that what we had once had in common was no longer valid or true.
So when a chance came up for us to reconnect after more than 35 years, I was less than enthusiastic. I was sure that all of the other women would be thin and fit and gorgeous and successful. I was afraid that all of the their kids had gone from the Ivy League to Wall Street or Madison Avenue or Boardwalk and Park Place. I was curious, but more than cautious.
But we got together. We reunited for a weekend, carefully and politely.
And it was nice.
So we did it again.
This past weekend, a bunch of us gathered in Maine at the beautiful old house of one of that High School group. She and her husband, another alumnus of our suburban town, had invited us up to ski and skate and tromp through the snow.
And it was THE BEST.
You know why? Not because of the fabulous food that we all chipped in to buy and cook, although that was pretty great. Not because of the gorgeous historic old house and the warm fires burning there, although those were incredibly cozy and welcoming. Not because of the snow, or the beautiful woods or the wine or the chance to get away.
It was fantastic because it was………I guess it was so special because we all…….well…
Because it was so easy. It was so natural and so real. Those of us from the old High School crowd walked around in our sweatpants and our fuzzy socks. Our spouses slouched around with “hat head” and old jeans and comfy slippers. We weren’t afraid of each other or comparing ourselves to each other. We shared our struggles and our aches and pains and our worries. We listened and we commiserated and we laughed.
And there, my friends, you find the “meaning of life”.
World renowned philosopher that I am not, I will now share this key life lesson: Its all about the connections you make. Its all about the connections you keep. Or the connections that you recreate. (And I owe this insight to my husband, who was a part of that original group and who pushed me gently into that first reunion).
I can sum up the magic of this past weekend in two short vignettes.
One was when I pulled one of my friends into my arms, and exclaimed with joy, “You look fantastic!” There was a time in our lives when that statement would have meant, “You look sexy and beautiful and young and fashionable.” Now it meant, “The sight of your familiar and beloved face is just exactly what my heart needs at this moment!!!!”
The other was as we said goodbye this morning, heading off into the snowy morning. We all hugged, High School pals and spouses. “Let’s do this again soon!” “Come see us in the spring!” “Let’s go sailing!” “When can we come back?”
And we all meant every single word. We absolutely without a doubt WILL get together again to laugh, eat, play, get silly, reminisce and laugh some more.
THAT is the meaning of life. This time I KNOW that these friendships will be a part of me for the rest of my life.
Thank you, thank you dear friends! I hope I did us justice here. If not, just pretend you loved it, OK?