Friday, October 14, 2011

Still Crazy After All These Years

The two men at the next table were a bit loud, laughing heartily with a slap on the back kind of vigor. My lunch companion was Jane Austen and this wild kind of fun was a bit distracting as I read my way through a plate of rice and green lentils. "Remember freshman year, or was it sophomore, when you....", I looked up, suddenly envious.

It's not often that I have lunch with someone with whom I could reminisce about sophomore year, in fact it's almost never. My school companions have spread from New Mexico to New York, we rarely actually talk, much less have lunch together. The last time we were all together as a group was at least twenty years ago, so long ago I don't actually remember, and I certainly don't remember every saying "good-bye, see you in what, maybe twenty years?".

But that is how it happens, even with people that at one time you held so tightly that the thought of a weekend without them was torture. Thankfully laughing together is like riding a bike, you don't ever forget, especially when you realize, halfway through the beautiful wedding, that you left your car running in the driveway outside. And when you, at 45, end up being only a slightly more grown up version of the person you were at 18, reconnecting with those old selves comes quite easily.

Was this where we thought we would be? Almost thirty years later, giggling at the tiny dog in the tiny dog carrier two seats away, at the home of Peter and his husband Brian, in New York, watching our friend Laura marry her longtime partner Candace?

Long ago, at about this time of year, we'd all wrap ourselves in ragg wool, borrow a family wagon and drive west for a day at the Renaissance Festival. After hours of eating turkey legs, making hand dipped candles and listening to poorly tuned accents, we'd pile back into the woody wagon, pop the Vivaldi cassette in the player and muse about spending days like this for the rest of our lives. Of course at 17 we failed to consider that things change; life doesn't always stay in suburban Kansas City, and that we were just beginning to discover who we might be for the rest of our lives.

Family wagons morphed into mini vans and we moved away, found new friends, grew up, and grew apart. We married, had babies, watched babies go to college, and two weeks ago found ourselves back together for the first time in a very long time. We discovered that saying hello again is just as easy as saying goodbye, and that after all these years, we were essentially the same wonderful people we knew so long ago. It seems that knowing people so intensely, and so thoroughly, works to bind you together for years to come, even if you don't spend any of those interim years together.

Politics and ceremony aside, it was really nice to be back amongst old friends.

"Did you think Laura would grow up and marry a woman?"
"I don't suppose I thought Laura would grow up".


Marion Williams-Bennett said...

Oh, yes.

When I reconnected with the people I knew from that time, it was so easy and so funny and so great. What I found remarkable was that the qualities of these friends were the same - that even though we were so young then, so not formed, I was drawn to them then, and felt that same connection even though I hadn't seen them for 25 years.

The Wagoneer with wood paneling, a classic!

northsidefour said...

You said that so much better, that at the end of the day we are just the same people. More wrinkles, a bit more tired, but the same, and still fun to be with. Thank you!
Oh that wagon, we loved it for so many years.

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

I don't suppose I thought Laura would grow up...precisely. :)

I was actually getting a bit weepy on the way home from the grocery store last night. It wasn't anything in particular about the tortillas or almond butter I'd just bought...I don't know what it was...but I was just longing to be among friends from home.

Even though we moved in different directions, my best friend from college and I managed to see each other two or three times a year, every year...until we had kiddos.

Our visits since then have been very few, but always so incredibly refreshing...I tell her, Being with you makes me feel like "me".

Her daughter is 15 months younger than our girls. I am hoping that, when everyone is a little older, we can resume our visits...and our girlies can develop a bond of their own.

Until then...

northsidefour said...

Mandy, I am clearly feeling the draw of nostalgia myself; read Egg in the Mud from a few weeks ago. In general I have done a truly terrible job at keeping up with old friends, I am forever grateful to FB, for all it's flaws, for helping me to find these amazing people who had such a hand in shaping the person I grew to be.

You know, I think I am always a bit mellow at this time of year, back to school, still missing that familiar routine.

Thanks for checking in!


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