Sunday, December 09, 2012

the gift of friendship

This weekend was a weekend of friends. Really old friends. I had a very tight group in my high school days and we have all managed to stay close and/ or in touch over all of these years. This week the first of our gang turned 40 and friends traveled from near and far to celebrate with him. Thankfully this first 40 friend happens to live just a few towns over from me so I was able to join in the fun.

I had a plan that I hatched 22 years ago. When we were all 18, I took my little video camera and spent a few weeks forcing all of our friends to sit down and do an interview with me. I asked everyone the same 10 or so questions. As some of the gang grumbled and squirmed at my insistence I always chirped the same line, "You'll thank me when we're 40." Well here we are. The videos are in storage with the birthday boy and are going to be digitized very soon. While I wish we had them for the party this weekend, technology and social media makes it just as easy to share, and I can't wait to see those interviews which none of us have looked at since we made the tapes when we were 18 years old.

Back in Stilwell, Kansas where I went to high school in the early 90's there wasn't much to do. Ok, there wasn't anything at all to do. So the thing our group did the most and did the best was talk. We would meet at a park or in a basement of someone's house or hang out in the school's little theatre and talk and talk and talk and talk. We were on the debate team, most of us after all, so running our mouths all day and night was no stretch.

This weekend was no exception. We stayed up until the wee hours each night here on the boat and out at their hotel talking and talking and talking. And more than that laughing and laughing and laughing until our cheeks ached and tears were rolling and we could barely breathe. Talk of past adventures and innocence lost and vices explored and secrets kept and jokes pulled off. Talk of lessons learned and feelings held and pain experienced and joy shared. Talk of the ones who were not there to be a part of this little rendezvous, some because of distances too far to travel and one in particular who was taken from us tragically by a completely random bullet. The thing about the dynamics in this group is the absolute safety. There is no being careful with words, no questions held back, no feelings bottle up. Refreshingly open. 

The long talks this weekend were surreal. Without our children and spouses around, we were in an alternate universe for a while. We all commented how normally we go around with these tags on us of mom, dad, husband, wife, scientist, writer, Republican, hippie, accountant, homeschooler, suburbanite, and so on. We wear the badge we play the role. But when we were all together engaging in our never ending 22+ year conversation all of those labels melted away. We weren't any of those things, those things didn't even exist, we just were.

(Ironically after being the steadfast shutterbug and documentarian all these 22+ years, I only took a few fuzzy phone photos this weekend. )

Having people who know you that deeply and have stuck with you through so many years and oh-so many changes, who have stuck with you through the awkwardly amazing process of growing up is a true gift.

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