Two weeks ago, I had dinner with a group of my high school friends. I was running to get there on time and felt badly that I was late. When I entered the bar and turned the corner, that feeling immediately went away. There sat five wonderful women chatting and laughing and hooting that I made it there. I was instantly transported 35 years back to high school and I felt like a friendship blanket was placed over me and the conversations began.
The interesting part of this lies in the fact that we were all friends but in different groups, sports and bands and yet so many of our memories overlapped. The painful memories of Mr. Asselstine’s geometry class and passing by the skin of our teeth. Talking about old boyfriends, memorable parties, football games and high school crushes made it feel like yesterday. Working at Ponderosa Steakhouse; French horns and memories or recent class reunions. My cheeks hurt from laughing and smiling.
Now a few decades later, we are married, divorced, mothers, cancer survivors, some battling illness and I hate to say this out loud, but women in our mid-50’s. Ugh that damn menopause… hot flashes from the wine, the wings and the laughter but it did not stop us from getting together and having some girl time.
Years ago my NYC roommate had a massive heart attack and died in her 40’s. When we were all at the wake, we spoke about how we dropped everything to be there but never worked that hard to be in the moment when she was alive. I vowed not to do that again. So as we all kissed and hugged goodbye, we committed to meeting again- and we will. Our 35 year high school reunion is next August and I don’t want to wait that long to see them again.
This week, my college roommate Diane, her boyfriend and Chip and I went to see Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band. Wow, never have I been in a venue with so many people in their mid-50’s and north! It was memory lane listening to him sing…he even played my prom theme, We’ve Got Tonight. Bob Seger sat on a stool and smiled and sang and felt the crowd as we sang along with him, each of us reminiscing in our own mind. How powerful that must be for a performer.
My roommate Diane is a great person. She is smart and funny and I miss her. We set off for the ladies room and then to get a beer. THAT certainly changed from our $.50 miller splits. How about $20 for two beers? We laughed about old college memories when the drinking age was 18 and frankly a large part of college life. Today, however, drinking fires up the hot flashes again and the old bladder can’t stay as strong as it did in the back of Dapper’s bar talking to a cute guy! She and I sang out loud, did the ‘pigeon dance’ in our seats and hoped the kids didn’t smell the pot smoke from the guys four rows down. What a great night. I miss her and I do NOT want to wait years to see her again.
As I have written one thousand times before, life is indeed strange and wonderful all at the same time. These two experiences have reminded me who I am and how I got here and most importantly, the people who were there along the way are still here. That is a great thing.
This is why the other day I was in the drive through line at Starbucks. There was a woman in her car texting away not paying attention that the line in front of her was gone and she was holding all the cars up. I sat as patiently as I could, ha, until a few minutes went by and I lightly beeped at her. I saw her face in the side view mirror as she opened the window, wound up that arm like a major league pitcher and flipped me the bird with as much gusto as she could manage. Nice.
She placed her order and now it’s my turn.
I ask the voice in the box what the woman ordered. “A peppermint latte”, the voice said.
“OK”, I said, “here’s what I want you to do. I will pay for her drink. Tell her the drink is on me and thank her for flipping me the bird.”
“What?” the voice said.
“You heard me, please do it.”
I watched this unfold from my car. No acknowledgment- wasn’t expecting it. When I got to the window, the voice said to me that the woman said she was sorry and thanked you for the coffee…along with a few descriptive adjectives.
“Why did you do that?” the voice asked.
I told her because she probably needed that more than I did based on her reaction to a tap of my horn. I hope that woman pays it forward and tries to realize that although we all, at some point, have reacted that way, it isn’t the best way to be. Kinder and gentler is easier said than done.
So I am going to take these old friends and experiences and meld them into the new times of my life and sit back and enjoy the stages that are about to come. College applications for Amelia, high school sports for Jack and a return to a couple’s life for me and Chip. God willing it will last for a while. Enjoy what you’ve got…it’s gone before you know it.