Things Change

August 12, 2011 at 2:33 am 2 comments

It was about 25 years ago. College graduation was just behind us and we’d gotten together during the summer for a long weekend. It was the first of many annual gatherings, and it was the best. We didn’t have a lot of money–we splurged on a limo one night to go to Atlantic City and it cost us $30 a piece. And I remember pitching in. I remember the excitement and the feeling of being a little crazy. I also remember figuring out how to drive back to Pittsburgh without using a toll road because after the limo and $40 on slots, I didn’t have $10 left to my name. Not in my wallet nor my bank account. I still recall laughing about that as I spread a paper map out across my hood, looking for a way home.

$30. Hard to imagine that that was once a lot of money. But it was. And we spent it. And it was worth every penny. I discovered that night that I am not a casino person, but the limo ride was hilarious and crowded and adventurous and a whole lotta fun.

We were spending the weekend with friends who were among the first to get married and the first to have a home that wasn’t a tiny apartment. At one point in that house, the couple who lived there were busy elsewhere. And a few of us found a pad of Post-It notes and a pen. And we decided to leave little notes. And we scribbled and giggled for quite some time.

Another highlight was that one of our friends, who missed the weekend, missed the weekend because she was giving birth to the first of our next generation. And we all went to the mall and bought baby gifts and shipped them off. Beyond Atlantic City and the mall, the memories are a jumble of uproarious laughter, beers, and hugs.

It was a brilliant weekend. One of the best.

Last week, that same couple came to stay at my house. They didn’t use a paper map to get here. There’s GPS these days. And they were driving an SUV, not a mustang or a purple (or was it periwinkle?) Gremlin. And an SUV has seats for teenage children. One who is about to leave for college. And it’s an incredible feeling to think that she is now as old as we were when we first met.

Incredible feeling as in awesome, nostalgic, bizarre, mind-boggling, joyous, midlife crisis inducing, and pretty darn cool.

They stayed two nights and I played hookie one day to go to Kennywood. Another swingback in the circle of our friendship as the last time I had been to that amusement park was with them and some of the other Atlantic City trip friends about 12 years ago. Of course, that time, I was fighting a hangover when it came to making my way around the rides. This time, my feet hurt.

Things change.

The next day, I left for work and they left for more of their trip. After days of prep and orchestrating sleeping arrangements and sharing one shower, I came home that day to an empty house. Is there a relief when company leaves? Even the best of company? Sure. But it makes me sad. And my little house felt lonely and quiet.

I sighed and straggled to the kitchen to make some dinner. My hand on the refrigerator door handle, I saw it. A Post-It note. And I started to giggle. And there were more. A lot more. In the ice cream, in a drawer, stuck on pictures, hanging in my medicine cabinet, under my pillow. I found another one this morning, in the egg carton. And I’m still giggling. And I suspect there are more to be found.

Paybacks aren’t always a bitch. Sometimes paybacks are hilarious.

We’re a long way from the college campus, and we’re older. There’s less drinking, more aches and pains. Dreams have been achieved or not. Hopes have been realized or jaded. We get up early to go to work. We pay for electricity and gas. We have mortgages and car payments and credit cards and loans. We don’t see each other every morning, go to every meal as a group, or go out dancing three nights a week. We’re grownups for heaven’s sake. We’ve seen a lot. We’ve done a lot in separate lives.  

But. All these years later, maybe there are few gray hairs or a few extra pounds here and there. Maybe we’re not quite as spry or not quite as quick. The memory’s a bit foggy. The heart’s not quite as light. But. The faces are the same, the eyes still light up when we spy each other. The hugs are still tight. The laughter still as infectious. The friendship is still strong. These life preservers still float. 

Yes, things change. But, the important things remain the same. And it is good to discover at middle-age, that some things are invincible.    

Til next time.

Entry filed under: Life Preservers. Tags: , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ruth  |  August 12, 2011 at 3:37 am

    :-)

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    Reply
  • 2. vicki gimpel  |  August 12, 2011 at 4:43 am

    Tears were not on my agenda today Schmidty!!!! I love you to bits – you will always be my favorite redhead. Great great couple of days – many more to come -ly – Vern

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    Reply

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