(Originally published September 30, 2013)
I spent 17 hours yesterday and today with one of my closest friends driving back to Denver from Walla Walla. All together we spent about 34 hours in the car (round trip) for about 32 hours of awake reunion time (and don’t believe my math because I’m very sleep deprived).
We were giddy with excitement the whole way to Walla Walla. We spent time buffering our memories with names and stories in an effort to avoid the herky-jerky awkwardness of non-remembering.
This was an amazing reunion in that it was way less about, “Hey, what do you do for a living?” and way more about, “Wow, so good to see you [and truly meaning it]. How are you? Tell me about your life.” I could see the sleep deprivation in the faces of my many friends with young children. I could feel beneath the excitement the weariness, the struggle, the contentment, the juggling…the actual living that so many of us have done since last seeing each other: kids born, illnesses fought (and won), marriages changing for better or worse, hearts broken and then mended, finances both smooth and rough, and all of us sharing memories of then with the added perspective of now.
I also noticed unadulterated joy, kindness, and the constantly asked question between people of different friend groups: “Why didn’t we ever hang out? You’re so cool!” Walls were down. Insecurities seemed to fade quickly. I heard those who were self-conscious of their own status say things like, “I can’t believe one woman from my class became an astronaut and the other became a [fill in the blank] and I’m just a [fill in the blank].” This self-deprecation really wasn’t tolerated as I’d hear someone say, “And are you happy?” The atmosphere seemed one in which many of us might have been self-conscious but we sure weren’t going to allow anyone else to be!
I also heard people say to each other, “Wow, you look EXACTLY the same!” And honestly, most of us really do…on the outside.