I just came back from a four day girls' trip to California, where I had a singular experience unlike any other heretofore in my life.
Almost six moths ago, a girl with whom I attended high school invited me, along with 8 other women, to her home outside of Los Angeles for a (very)mini high school reunion. As I so often am, I was baffled by this invitation. Pleased, but baffled. J and I weren't necessarily close in high school. That isn't to say we weren't friendly, we just ran in different circles. I knew several other of the invitees, and recognized names of others, but my relationships with them were much the same. The memories I had of these girls were still snapshots: Frozen moments in time from 20-25 years ago, at a swim meet, in economics class, at a football game. I had absolutely no clue how our "reunion" would actually pan out.
A very tiny, neurotically insecure part of me thought that this was some twenty plus year continuation of my horrific awkwardness from high school, that when I got there they'd put my bra in the freezer or dip my hand in warm water because I was the first one asleep. In reality, however, was occurred was as far from that as a situation could possibly get. All but two of the girls invited attended this reunion, cleverly dubbed by our hostess as the South Irving Slumber Party. To say it was "FANTASTIC" (hee) would be an understatement. While at first we were only bonded by our origins and shared childhood geography in a lower to middle-class upbringing, what resulted was an actual understanding of how our roots shaped us. What was at the core of who we who we grew to be and, as the weekend progressed, who and what we are today.
The perfunctory conversations, the "Tell me about your family!", "What do you do?" were soon replaced by real, honest conversations about fears, shared struggles, confessions about what we perceived as our inadequacies, to our failings and successes as parents, to the love we have for our spouses and significant others (at the same time sometimes wanting to punch said men in the foreheads). There was no judgement, no girly bitchiness, no thinly veiled hateful remarks, only attentive listening and empathy. It was, in a word, delightful.
A few weeks ago the iconic eighties movie, The Breakfast Club was on TBS, and contrary to my character, I sat down, put way the iPad, laptop, and phone, and watched the entire movie without distractions. As it always has, the movie made me laugh uproariously, and just a few moments later, bring tears to my eyes - and my reaction to this weekend was just the same. I laughed a lot. I cried a few times, too: at revelations of character, at shared historical experiences, at the knowledge of why someone behaved the way they did back then and the raw, emotional honesty of NOW.
What I learned is that even though this group of women didn't make much sense on paper, we were very much like our iconic movie counterparts. We saw us as we wanted to see us... "In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions." But what we found out is that each one of us is so much more than we thought, so much more than what we were back then.
But what I want to impress upon my younger readers, my students, and my own children is that the crippling teenage insecurity that you either ignore, mask by bitchiness, a party persona, burying your nose in a book or pretending that the outside world doesn't exist, is that to some extent, we're ALL insecure. That doesn't last forever. It goes away, and what replaces that feeling is the best thing of all.
It's friendship. Real, honest, amazing, loving friendship that sincerely puts its arms around you and doesn't want to let go to travel back across the country to return the the ennui of daily life. I have absolutely no doubt that this group will both keep in touch and do this again, with astonishingly positive results. I'm just sure of it.
Alright, already. Enough preachy pontificating. The rest of this post will be less mushy and more exciting. With pictures!
We shopped in L.A., Drove by the Hollywood Walk of Fame and heard (rather than saw) Barry White get his posthumous star, sang the lyrics to cheesy, 90's rap songs, did an ALL DAY wine tasting in Santa Barbara...
...Did some paddleboarding and got massages (and mimosas and fruit!) from the company of a schoolmate that graduated the year below us...
...Drove down the coast of California a bit, sat in multiple hot tubs, jumped in pools fully dressed, had eventful limo rides, drank lots of GOOD wine...
...had dinner at fine restaurants, fun Farmer's Markets and at at J's house prepared by her amazing husband and children TWICE...
...learned that we all had a general dislike of our Junior year Algebra teacher (moles and all), that wine is wonderful...
...being silly, really silly, is not only freeing but extremely necessary, and finally, that nicknames given by people who love and accept you for exactly who you are is the absolute BEST.
Thanks for the weekend, ladies. It was an absolute blast. I can't wait to see you all again.
I hope it's soon.