When you connect with friends you met when you were 18 and now you find yourselves as grandmothers, one never knows how it will go. How did we change? Did anyone go off the rails? Did the challenges of life change the exuberance we all knew when we were young?
When my college roommate, LeAnne, texted the other four of us who had known each other since freshman year suggesting a meet-up, everyone was game and plans were made. A VRBO, dining at our old dorm, time to check out the campus, and a birthday celebration. Things fell together like clockwork. We'd be back at MSU together!
Most of us came from around Michigan -- Carol from the north, Barb and LeAnne from the west, and me from central Michigan. Terry came from Pensacola, Florida. It wasn't our first get together -- but it was the first when all five of us had been together for 50 years.
As I mentioned, we met in the dorm and somehow found each other. During those years we hit the dining hall together, went to the movies that played on campus and concerts with people like The Fifth Dimension and The Association (for five dollars. Yes. Really.) We went to football games on beautiful autumn days smuggling in "hot chocolate" in chilled thermoses. (Today you can't even bring in your own water bottle -- but you can buy beer at the stadium. Go figure.) We played a lot of cards and more than a few practical jokes. (One day I came back from class to find that all the furniture in my dorm room was gone.)
Carol and I even toured in a play together during our sophomore year! (That's Carol in the red and yellow; I'm in the purple!)
As we finished school, we found ourselves attending, being an attendant in, or singing at weddings. We had a "gang" of sorts -- a bunch of really fun people who somehow managed to stick together. Some dated each other, but everyone was friends with everyone else. No cell phones to distract.
Our group met in Panera and three hours later we moved on (after laughing so hard I'm sure half the restaurant wanted to join in and if they didn't, at least knew more of our story than strangers should know). We revisited our beautiful campus (and the ugly parts, too) and walked through the pretty part.
Now and then we'd find friendly students to take our group photo!
After dinner at the dorm (things sure have changed since they slopped salisbury steak or mac and cheese on our trays as we went through the lines back then; now it's a food court!), we headed back to the VRBO where it was time to celebrate LeAnne's birthday. (Sorry about the blurry pic!)
And Carol (being the elementary school teacher who just knew how to be super clever) gave us Halloween stockings with plastic teeth, candy, apples and more inside!
After sharing as many stories as we remembered, we eventually tumbled into bed in the wee hours. And in the morning, started over again with more stories, more laughing.
The thing that will stick with me most as I look back on this wonderful gathering was that really, no one had changed. We were still the same people we were those many years ago -- just older, more seasoned (perhaps), all with different life experiences. We had two teachers, a social worker, a Navy band member and me in PR. Some lived in places across the country, others stayed in one city after graduation. One was widowed, one (me) never married but connected. Some stuck with their majors in their careers, others didn't. But we were still the same characters we were fifty years before, picking up right where we left off, as though those days were yesterday.
Maybe in the big continuum of life, where we are just specks in the history of time, it still is yesterday. Maybe it is even still today.
After I got home, I listened to a favorite song, "Old Friends" from Stephen Sondheim's "Merrily We Roll Along" (now enjoying a Broadway revival). Have a listen if you've ever thought about your old friends. His lyrics ring true.