I turned sixty this year as you know. And so did my three best girlfriends from grade school. The four of us were known as the Four Musketeers. We fell out of regular touch after high school but somehow miraculously were able to connect and celebrate together the year that we turned forty. Which is when we made the pact that we would do it again the year of our sixtieth birthdays. And we did. I'm still hungover.
When we gathered for our fortieth celebration, most of our conversation revolved around updating the story of our lives:children, travel, career moves, home renovations, divorces and new relationships. It was fun, but we were all too busy in our lives to realize what a gift we had in these friendships cemented in childhood.
Last weekend was a whole different story. It was hard to coordinate. We all live in different cities. At one point it looked like there might only be three of us but somehow it came together. There has a been a lot of water pass under the bridge in twenty years. We've all lost at least one parent. Two of us are down a sibling. Most of us are grandmas and a few of us have wrestled the heartbreak of delivering a cracked parent into a nursing home. A couple of us are retired and trying to figure out our new place in the world. The other two are still hard at it. And miraculously, none of us have had a face lift or botox, or a boob job. Yet. It did come up for discussion.
I confess to having had a bit of anxiety about the reunion. I'd be sharing a hotel room with three of the four and well, you know me. I'm neurotic. I was worried about sharing a bathroom and maybe snoring. I'm used to hours and hours alone most days. I travel with my own pillow. I can barely stand my own company. But the moment I walked into the hotel room and was greeted by Diane and Jennifer I knew this time it was going to be different. We hugged and kissed. Diane burst into tears she was so happy to see me. Jennifer didn't. She's not a public crier, but I knew she was just as happy to see me.
We didn't waste time on small talk this time. We went straight to a fabulous Mexican restaurant and inhaled a couple of Margaritas in the early October afternoon sun. They had a heat lamp going over our table which we immediately requested be turned off. Hot flashes were enough to keep us from getting a chill. We talked a lot about our childhood days and each confessed we carried guilt about how we had treated a poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks when we were in Grade Three. Girls were mean back then too. We also talked of the stress each of us felt within our own foursome pecking order. We reminisced about our Grade Five Teacher Mr. Humenuik who we all had a mad crush on. Fresh out of teacher's college, he must have been barely twenty one. And we had him wrapped around our little finger. He still lived with his mother, and we used to make our mothers drive to his house so we could sell him Girl Guide cookies. We also had all or classmates chip in to buy him a year end gift which we chose...an orange and avocado coloured cabana suit. I'm not kidding. That was the year we formed our group The Singing Girlfriends. We roamed from class to class singing Monkey songs in our bell bottoms. And according to Diane, we still have a follower. He recently found her on Facebook and wrote to her about what a crush he had on us all. Especially Jennifer. But we didn't just go down memory lane, we talked politics and the state of this messed up planet. These are smart and opinionated women.
Margaritas led to wine at a little French bistro and then we made our way to the home of the fourth Musketeer Heather, who was making us dinner. As the evening progressed and more wine was consumed and more confessions made, I had a thought. Because I'm design obsessed, I considered how each of our homes reflected the story of our lives. You knew I'd get to that didn't you ha.
I learned from Jennifer, who's childhood I always thought looked like more fun because her parents were very liberal minded and somewhat bohemian, had longed for the order and predictability that the three other Musketeers had in our home lives. And in her adult life she has created this for her own family. Her home is large and comfortable with room for all her grandkids. She been with the same guy since high school. They have a big screening room in their basement. She's a solid individual. And hysterically funny with just the right amount of vino.
Heather spent her childhood at auctions. Her parents were kind of obsessed with antiques and she learned at an early age how to identify the real from the fake. Her home is art filled and elegant. She collects first edition books. She represents style and class. She's tall and kind of looks like Nicole Kidman and I always feel short and fat when she walks into a room. She doesn't have children of her own, but treats those in her life with special care.
And Diane...well she holds a deep place in my heart. Sorry Heather and Jennifer, it doesn't mean I don't love you too. We met making mud pies at four years old. I practically lived at her house as a child. She never had a sister so I was the substitute. She has made a lifetime of being a good girlfriend. She's had a few crushing losses in her life and she's a weeper. I love that about her too. Heart on sleeve. She has eighteen year old twin grandsons and an eight month old granddaughter she is completely smitten with. She lives in a tiny eight hundred square foot house that's full of bright and vibrant colours. Full of life just like her. And she has a family cottage which Im going to help her breathe new life into next summer. Ive already got my magazines out. Yay.
And then there's me. but you already know all about that. We agreed twenty years is probably a little too long to wait for our next reunion. God knows, we might be deaf or dead or have a touch of the dementia. But for now, I'm just kind of basking in the renewed sense of friendship I feel with these beautiful women. Lucky me.