I just came back from a girls’ weekend in PA with seven wonderful college friends. This is a group that’s really bad at keeping in touch – we usually manage to exchange photo Christmas cards, sometimes with letters – but that’s about it. The last time they gathered was four years ago, a gathering I missed, because I was too overwhelmed by my life at the time. The amazing thing is that it doesn’t matter how much time has passed…we always just pick up where we left off. There is no “re-entry” period, no discomfort, no getting reacquainted. It’s just…bam!…back in it. It was wonderful.
It was a beautiful weekend in western Pennsylvania.
Some statistics about us: 6 of us graduated from college in 1985, and two in 1986. 7 of us are married with children ranging in age from 2 (me) to 19 (Sue), with most of our children in high school and college. 3 of us work full-time, one is taking a year off from school counseling, and the rest work part-time and/or volunteer. 7 of us are originally from Pennsylvania, with one (Nancy) from upstate New York. Now we are in the following places:
Nancy – Atlanta, GA
Kathy – Kalamazoo, MI
Sue – suburban Baltimore, MD
Tijen – suburban Washington, DC
Kim – Hollidaysburg (Altoona), PA
Mary – Uniontown, PA
Chris – Pittsburgh (-ish), PA
me – Oak Park, IL
We stayed at Kim’s condo at Seven Springs. http://www.7springs.com/. We went for walks, ate (a lot), pampered ourselves at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort http://www.nemacolin.com/, looked at photos, laughed, and talked and talked and talked – it was a rare occurrence when there was only one person speaking at a time.
Today I was thinking about how we’re the same and how we’re different from when we were in college.
Ways We’re the Same:
1. We look the same. Unlike my last high school reunion, where many people were completely unrecognizable to me, I would know each of these women instantly. Despite a few wrinkles, saggy knees (sigh), and the effects of gravity, our classmates would recognize us. There was surprisingly little gray hair, although only our hairdressers know who has help (and Nancy’s husband Craig, who does her hair).
2. We have the same personalitiesas we did in college. No one’s reinvented herself in any major way. We have the same positive character traits, and the same wonderful flaws. (Perfect is so over-rated.) Each of us has the same mannerisms – Nancy still throws her head back when she laughs –
and we still call each other by the same nicknames.
3. We still eat a lot of really unhealthy food (at least when we’re together.) We finished off a peanut-butter melt-away cake, a package of peanut butter Oreos, crab dip, and lots and lots of nuts. (Recipes for the cake and crab dip will be posted later this week.)
4. Kathy still can’t sing.
Still, there are changes.
1. Each of us has deepened. The experiences of marriage, child-rearing, career, caring for aging parents, financial worries, and dealing with the ups and downs of adulthood have strengthened us, and created depth that we didn’t have in college. I think we have all become very strong women.
2. We talk about illnesses and other bodily problems WAY more than we used to. Bunions, plantars fasciitis, scratched corneas, severe respiratory illnesses, and many other maladies were discussed regularly throughout the weekend.
3. I don’t remember us being particularly politically aware in college. This weekend, we had many discussions about presidential candidates. I was amazed at the respectful levels of the conversations. Some of us are supporting Obama and some McCain, but each person I spoke to about it was able to articulate the very sound reasons they were supporting their candidate without personally insulting the other candidate.
4. We pick up after ourselves better than we did in college.
I can’t come up with one more way that we’re different, so I guess I’ll have to stop at 4.
I was struck by the similarities among all of us. Regardless of income level, where we live, whether or not we have children or careers, we share many of the same hopes, fears and anxieties. We worry about making ends meet, paying for college, retirement and/or houses, caring for aging parents and/or missing those parents who are gone, the pressures of raising teenagers, and the divisiveness of our current political environment. We are clipping coupons, conserving gas, and trying to keep our anxiety levels down.