Thursday, December 07, 2006

Buddy Weekend

My annual Buddy Weekend is over for the year…it’s sad, really. I look forward to this weekend so much, and then it comes and is gone and over so quickly. I LOVE my buddies, and I had a great weekend, but it went by way too fast! And I felt like I was under such a time crunch the whole time…

I not only felt I was under a time crunch, I really was. In the course of about 66 hours (that’s how long I was in CA), I spent 20 hours sleeping, 6 hours driving, 3 hours getting my hair done, 3 hours eating 2 different meals with my family, 2 hours visiting with another friend, and the rest relaxing at Shaver Lake with the girls.

We chatted and read magazines and played cards and ate and opened gifts and ate and ate…oh, I already said that! We ALWAYS eat a TON of junk food!

This year we did something a little different. We participated in a friendship building activity. It sounds kind of dry when you say it that way, but it ended up to be really good for all of us. See, we’ve all been friends for years and years, some of us for almost our whole lives, but lately we’ve realized that we don’t know everyone very deeply. We have plenty to talk about when we get together, but it’s all kind of on the surface. Sure, a few of us have been closer than that at different times in our lives, but overall, we kind of glaze over the deep feelings and struggles we all have. We can’t exactly pinpoint why we have done that, other than it could stem from us becoming close while we were in high school. Y’know, back in those days when you don’t want anyone to know you’re scared or insecure or having problems…you just want to fit in and have fun.

But as we’ve gotten older, we’ve faced all kinds of trials that we need each other to help us get through – health issues, fertility issues, marital problems, family concerns – we’ve realized we’re not 18 anymore where the biggest concern was what to do on Friday night.

One analogy that came out of the weekend was that we are like a family -- the commitment that we’ve made to our group of “buddies” is like that of a family or a marriage. We may not always have time to get together or want to get together for these annual trips, but we’ve committed our hearts and friendships to each other, so we make it a priority.

I recently read a story in a book called Girl Time by Laura Jensen Walker. It describes my “buddies” perfectly…who knew there were more groups like us out there...

An excerpt from Girl Time by Laura Jensen Walker:

My pal Jan’s friend Mary Gail has been getting together with the same group of ten girlfriends for decades.

“Two of us met in kindergarten in 1949,” said Mary Gail, “and out of the ten, seven of us married high school sweethearts. We were all in each other’s weddings, and we have a lot of history together.”

The girls first met in high school in southern California, where once a month they’d rotate houses for a slumber party. After they got married, they all still got together once a month at someone’s house for lunch, and then, once the kids were born, they got together once a month in the park.

Eventually, however, the responsibilities of families, careers, moves, and other major life events interrupted the regular girlfriend get-togethers for a few seasons.

But about fifteen years ago, Sheila, one of the friends who had a house in Palm Springs, invited all the others over for a “girlfriend reunion.” The women had so much fun together that they pledged then and there to make it a yearly tradition. In time, the house became a condo in Palm Desert, and now every April the ten women meet there for a five-day getaway.

Mostly, the women lay by the pool and visit, but they’ll also read and play ‘50’s songs from high school and often get up and dance.

“We act the same as when we were in high school,” Mary Gail said with a laugh. “We relax and take turns fixing dinner. Most of the time we like to cook in, but we usually go out to dinner one night. We do a lot of talking. We’ve been through a lot over the years – divorces and things with our kids – and we’re all a wonderful support group for each other. We’re like the Ya-Ya Sisterhood – we’ve just really, really been there for one another. We’ve all made other friends along the way, but there’s just something real special we have together.”

That was evidenced last year when Mary Gail had heart surgery and Pam, her girlfriend since kindergarten, flew up to be with her and take care of her.

“She wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Mary Gail said.

The other friends have all done the same – in different ways – for each other at one time or another.

Nine of the women still live in California, but when Melinda, their Oregon friend, suddenly lost her fifty-six-year-old high school sweetheart husband to a heart attack a couple years ago, the girlfriends visited her in Oregon that year. “Our trip to see her was the most emotional yet,” Mary Gail said.

The ten are now talking about taking a short cruise together the year they turn sixty – which is right around the corner.

“We’re extremely close,” said Mary Gail. “And as we get older, we get more emotional about it, because some of us have health problems and we don’t know how much more time we’ll all have. We feel like we’re closer today that ever. When you get to be this age, you realize life is short.”

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