Category Archives: Friends

We’ll always be loyal and true

I just spent the weekend with the most amazing women.  Women I’ve known pretty much my whole life (with the exception of Leigh, who was Margaret’s best friend from Penn State, but who we’ve known for so long that she’s one of the group.)  Women who know my deepest, darkest secrets and manage to like me anyway. Women who make me feel humble (because there’s nothing like hanging out with people who knew you “back in the day” to keep you humble.)

Girls' Weekend 009

Margaret was the hostess with the mostess. She lives in Caseyville, IL, and works for a securities firm whose name keeps changing, causing her no end of work. (She’s in internal communications.)

Girls' Weekend 012

Lin is on the faculty at a college in Maryland (I know, my command of the details has always been my strong point.)  She’s the only one of us with a Ph.D.  And we’re very proud of her.

Girls' Weekend 003

Maria left us after sophomore year of high school and we hadn’t seen her in 28 years. She lives in Colorado and does communications for a not-for-profit foster care agency. And yes, we picked up with her pretty much where we left off.

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Leigh is our adopted friend. She lives in Herndon, VA and is a national account manager for a large cosmetic company.

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And me, of course.

The sixth member of our little group, Karla, could not be with us this weekend and we were sad. But she’ll be with us next year.

I feel refreshed and relaxed. We laughed and talked and ate and slept and talked some more.  As it always is when we get together, it was like we had never been apart.

We talked about elementary school and middle school and the disastrous (for most of us) “open space” experiment we were all subjected to in 5th grade.  We talked about our jobs and our kids and our mundane lives. And of course we talked about high school.  How nasty we were to each other at times (I think it might have had something to do with some boys, many of whose names now escape us after 27 years.)  How much fun we had at band camp. (No, seriously, we did.) And on the band bus. (Yeah, seriously. We did.) About the differences between the perceptions we had of each others’ home lives growing up, and the realities of those lives. 

We talked about past loves and past good-enough-for-nows.  We shared our best moments and those we were still ashamed of, even after 10, 15, 25 years.  Our proudest memories and our most embarrassing moments.  Things we love remembering about high school and things we’d rather forget. And we made amends for things we should have made amends for years ago, and that we were still carrying around inside.

What was most fascinating to me was that we each had such different recollections of the same events.  And I’m quite sure that if we had a recording of the actual events, they would be different than any of us remembers. 

Though changes come, as time rolls on, we’ll always be loyal and true..

(And yes, I had to look that up. Thank you, Google.)

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A Face from the past…and present

A question from my sister yesterday about how I use Facebook got me thinking.

I guess I’ve been on Facebook for almost a year. I don’t remember when I joined, and I’m not interested enough to go back and look it up.

It’s not what I expected when I joined. It’s more like a series of big noisy cocktail parties than small, intimate dinner parties.  Big, noisy cocktail parties with an invite list of an interesting mix of people from my past and my present – people I’ve known since I was born, people I’ve known for 20 years, people I lost touch with, people who’s offices are currently very close to mine (close enough to hear me typing.) Most times, I stop into the party for about 10 minutes to see who’s there, and chit-chat with several people.  Other times, I have longer “conversations” with people, looking at photos, reading notes, looking at quiz results, taking a quiz here or there.  

Some of the people I have the most interaction with on Facebook are people I didn’t know very well in high school, but I’ve enjoyed getting to know a bit better through our “conversations.” Some of them are people I lost touch with from college and grad school and am so grateful to have in my life again, even in this limited way. Some of the people are people I know in real life today, but I find out things about them on Facebook that I wouldn’t find out through our off-line interaction. 

I have my own set of rules – I rarely send flair, gifts, drinks or flowers (and I ignore them when people send them to me.) I don’t enter into conversations about politics or religion (the Episcopal church, yes. Religion, no), as those topics are too complex to discuss in this forum.  I try to keep my updates and comments positive. I try not to be mean, although I’m probably a bit too snarky sometimes. I don’t have arguments with people. I don’t share intimate details of my life.

With a few exceptions, I’m only friends with people I’ve met in real life. I usually accept friend requests. I enjoy reading comments from people whose political and religious views are different from mine, as long as their comments are respectful (they usually are). I have unfriended people who appeared to be mentally unbalanced and/or had nasty, public arguments, or who shared things I wasn’t comfortable hearing about in this public space.  

I’ve had a few disappointments.  Some people whom I was excited to reconnect with quickly disappeared, or don’t participate much.  Some people unfriended me, and I don’t know why. (And it’s really, really bugging me!!) I fear that I offended them in some way, and I wish I knew why. My biggest frustration is that I’d love to have more in-depth conversations with people about some of the things they post (or just about life in general), but it’s not the forum for that.  

But overall, I enjoy it. Very much. Thanks to all my Facebook friends – I am grateful to you for participating in this interesting cocktail party that connects my past to my present.

What are your thoughts about Facebook? What are your rules? What has surprised you – good and bad?

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Where have all the neighbors gone?

I’ve always wanted to live on the kind of block my siblings grew up on…the kind of block where everyone knew each other, where there were a ton of kids, and where people threw impromptu parties for the whole block.  I didn’t grow up on that kind of block.  In fact, I grew up in the same house my siblings grew up in, but because I was so much younger than my siblings, all the neighbor kids had grown up and moved away by the time I grew up.  We still knew all the neighbors, certainly. And when I got locked out occasionally, there were plenty of houses I go to to (including my Nana’s), either to get a key, or at minimum, to have a glass of iced tea while waiting for one of my parents to get home.  I was enchanted by the stories of the block…of hot summer evenings where someone would throw a beer can in the street to notify everyone that the evening’s party would be at his house…of kids playing ball in the street until the ball accidentally went into the old lady’s yard, only to be confiscated by said lady (we imagined a big closet full of nothing but balls.) 

So i dreamt of a block full of kids and parties, of people borrowing a cup of sugar, and of  everyone keeping an eye on everyone else’s kids.  And to my delight, the block we live in is exactly that.  Interestingly, it wasn’t that way when Emma and I moved in almost eight years ago – she was one of the only kids on the block.  But since we moved in, new families have moved in (and some have moved out again), babies have been born, babies have arrived from foreign countries, and our block has grown into the place I always wanted to live.

And so I’m a bit melancholy today, because the weather has turned cold, and we will see the neighbors infrequently until spring.  We’ll still plan events – the Christmas party and kids’ gift exchange, a Saturday “blocktail party” on a cold winter day when the kids and adults are going stir crazy and need somewhere to go, even if it’s just across the street.  We’ll email and talk on the phone.  We’ll see each other and wave as we drive down the street.

But it won’t be the same as those wonderful summer days where we gather on Pegeen’s or Stephanie’s porch, and someone with a bottle of wine will bring it out, and someone else with juice boxes will bring them out, and yet another someone else will bring the pretzels.  And the kids will ride bikes up and down the block, and play hide and seek, and play baseball.  And we will laugh and catch up on the weeks’ events, and stay out a bit later than planned.  And sometimes dinner won’t get made, so we’ll order a pizza instead. 

No, for the winter we’ll be bundled up, and we’ll use the back door instead of the front because we need to put the car in the garage.  We’ll cook dinner on time, and we’ll put the kids to bed on time, because they have to go to school tomorrow.  It will be dark when we rise, and it will be dark when we walk out of work at 5:00. 

Good-bye warm weather. Good-bye neighbors.  See you in the spring.

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Acting like a bunch of teenagers

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

Some photos:

Tijen

Tijen

Chris

Chris

Deb and Mary

Deb and Mary

Sue and Mary

Sue and Mary

Kathy

Kathy

Nancy

Nancy

Mary and Kim

Mary and Kim

Chris, Deb and Kim

Chris, Deb and Kim

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.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MX7UXzlhRqc

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.

I wouldn’t have traded this weekend for anything.

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