Saturday, November 21, 2015

who we become...

For many people, maybe most, in fact, high school is a high point in their lives. It is the first glimpse into impending adulthood, complete with the requisite taste of first love, unchaperoned parties, stereotypes, peer pressure, and acne.

As with elementary and middle school, if you attended public schools, as I did, your classmates were decided largely, if not entirely, by geographical proximity to the school. And your class choices were mostly predetermined.

It took me a while to realize that this whole luck of the draw thing might be why I harbor no affection and little recollection of that time in my life, outside of shows and choir performances, that is.

The only friends I maintain from that period of my life, (minus recent reconnection due to the advent of social media), did not go my high school. We met in performing arts camp and Yonkers All City Choir.

I say this not because high school was traumatic or particularly awful, but because, when I think about my life, I consider it to have begun the day I stepped foot onto the campus of Northwestern University. (Go Wildcats!)

I chose Northwestern because it produced (and still produces) an astounding number of successful people in the performing arts. You cannot go to a Broadway show, concert hall, opera house, movie, or watch a TV show that does not contain Northwestern Alumni. And that was a good enough reason for me to choose it.

My freshman year found me living in a short wing on the 4th floor of a dorm called Allison, which, at that time, was all girls. Five of us from that little wing would go on to become roommates in the subsequent years, adding two more to our mix.

We represented diverse interests, majors, religions, and parts of the country, but we were all drawn to each other. Ultimately, our group would become doctors, lawyers, musicians, journalists, academic scholars and writers. That sounds dizzying to me now, but when we met, we were all just trying to find ourselves and our way in the world.

Life has a way of scattering us, of keeping us busy, and focused on what is immediately in front of us, not what has passed.

We live new places, take new jobs, make new friends, marry, divorce, have children. It is the natural order of things, I suppose. And usually, those things leave little time and energy for staying in touch, no matter how deep the affection.

So to find ourselves together again – all of us – nearly 30 years later, was an unbelievable feat…and treat.

Who are we now? Would we still recognize each other? Was what drew us together in the first place still there? And what was that, anyway?

Would the conversation be polite and superficial, or deep and meaningful? Would we get on each other’s nerves? Would we still like each other? Would the air be pregnant with awkward silences or filled with laughter and love? Would we have anything to say once we got past the initial details of catching up? Would it be all about memories, or would we be creating something new?

Most of us already turned 50. What wisdom had we acquired in a half century, and what would that look like? Who are we now? What had we figured out – about ourselves and about life? What brought us together now, at this particular moment, and why?

I can only speak for myself, of course, but I would say that each of us is at a crossroads in our lives, seeking something we didn’t know we should or would be looking for.

Yes, there were moments for reminiscing. And there was laughter – lots and lots of laughter. It turns out that Stephen Colbert had been to a party at our apartment. Of course, I wouldn't remember that, because I was too busy running around screaming, "We're gonna get evicted! We're gonna get evicted!" In my defense, that was right before the police showed up at our door. It does make for great storytelling years later, though. And we did not, in fact, get evicted.

In addition to the laughter, though, there was also depth and courage, compassion, acceptance, admiration and genuine love all around.

There was a feeling of gratitude that permeated every moment of the weekend. We were all wise enough to know that this kind of friendship is rare and precious and should be recognized and appreciated as such.

Relationships take effort. All relationships. They deserve the kind of care we’d give to something we treasure. They deserve the time for a text, an email, a phone call, and a visit. Friendships deserve our time and energy, because they sustain us throughout our lives.

I may have forgotten what I learned in Oceans of the World, (and it’s quite possible I could not have told you, even when I was taking Oceans of the World), but what I learned and took away from Northwestern was far more important – be grateful for, nurture, support and cherish those whom you hold dear. They will sustain you for a lifetime.

If you’re reading this now, go phone a friend, reconnect, reach out, make the time. You’ll be glad you did. 

To my roommates and all my friends, old and new, I count your friendship among the richest blessings of my life. 

Thanks for stopping by...
Diane, Tanya, Julie, Nancy, Paula, Christine, me, & Alisa

No comments:

Post a Comment