Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Old Gang

And, by “old,” I mean MY AGE, not Bub’s. Bwah-ha-ha-ha!

At the end of November, we had a chance to get a bunch of friends together – some hadn’t seen each other for about 20 years. Things sure have changed.

Pre-teens were in attendance with people whom I once knew as teenagers. Babies (the grandbaby of two of those once-teens, for heaven’s sake), pre-schoolers, new loves, old flames, high school buddies, bar pals, new friends, and great food. It was an awesome night.

We were originally slated to host this little shin-dig, but Bub was sick for the whole week leading up to it. The choice was made to move the venue – last minute – to Mer’s house. Bless her – she did an awesome job – and bless her sweetheart who had just had foot surgery a few days before. I was waiting the entire time for someone to smack into her poor foot, but everyone (even the little people) managed to avoid it. Whew!

Friends were in attendance from Phoenix and Chowchilla and here in the valley for a pre-Thanksgiving feast. We brought the turkey (my first - brined, even!) and a delish cheesecake (because everything Bub does is yummy). Everything was pot-luck, and it was an awesome spread. Even Leen’s dessert mistake was fantastic! (Dessert mistake? That’s what you get when you follow two different recipes. Like Rachel’s trifle on that episode of Friends, but without the beef and peas…)

The kids had a BLAST. For the most part, there was always someone similar in age, so everyone had someone to play with.

It’s too bad that O. had to leave early because I think that she and S. could have had a beauty contest. And, regardless of what Vasey. says, S. didn’t display one moment of diva-ness.

Electronics for the bigger kids, of course.

Trains and kittens were also big hits.

Since Mer doesn’t have kids, she was worried about having enough for them to do, so I made sure that the kids could sufficiently destroy the kitchen floor by baking some cherry cupcakes, making frosting, and providing sprinkles. I’m guessing that the hostesses were sweeping up sprinkles for days.

The grownups sat around and laughed about the “good old days.” I’m only 42. How is it possible that I even use that phrase? There were a couple of tears choked back when we talked about the loss of baby A. There were good natured arguments about what really happened on that 3-wheeler at Flaming Gorge. There were introductions of some newbies and the ensuing welcoming of them into our lives. There were questions about who/what/where/when/why/how with Jod, Di, Sweets, Cass, Bren, TC, Chandler, and so many more. We missed those girls who couldn’t be there, but we held them in our hearts and only made fun of them a little bit. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

We were once such a close knit group. My girlfriend (at the time) and I used to spend almost every evening with at least two of these wonderful then-girls-now-women. Never did I think that some of us would be parents (Beck, Jod). Never did I think that one of us would eat meat ever again (Di). I always knew that some of us would be parents, and it’s so fun to see that play out – although not always in the ways that we expected.

We talked about the loves that we have had over the years. We commiserated over the losses that we have endured – of friends, of parents, of pets, of relationships, of jobs. We talked about the various times when some of us have felt like we’re going hyena-laughing, straight-jacket, bat-shit crazy. We swapped birthing stories. We bragged about our kids. We told stories of Vegas, and Mt. Pleasant, and the apartments on 13th, and Alaska, and the house off of 33rd, and Arizona. We talked about work and shared experiences of being a police officer, a librarian, a truck driver, a process manager, a cook, a mechanic, a computer geek. We looked at old photo albums and wondered how the hell we got so old because, honestly, none of us FEEL that old….

Seriously, we can’t possibly be that old, can we?

They don’t understand some of my decisions, and in fact, some have been very vocal about the mistakes that they feel I have made or (they feel) am still making. In all honesty, I don’t understand every choice that each of them has made, either. Whether it’s to take back someone who abused or cheated, or the best way to end a relationship, or a career change, or some parenting decisions, or you-seriously-wore-that-shirt-on-purpose… The thing is, I don’t HAVE to understand all of that stuff to love these women (and John) with all of my heart. They have always been there for me, and if I needed anything I would be hard pressed to choose whether to call on them or a blood relative.

I adore them.

These women shaped my life in ways that I can never explain, and I will never be able to repay them for the friendship that they showed to me 20+ years ago and still show to me today. They helped me muster up the courage to come out to my family. They saw me through a rocky relationship. They almost got me arrested for sharing my pitcher of beer at the bowling alley. They gave advice on carrying twins. They danced and sang and partied with me. They cried with me. They cried because of me. They supported me. They cleaned up me up after I partied too hard. They made mistakes that hurt me. They made amends. They shared their food, their cars (literally), their good and bad fortune. They welcomed me and accepted me when others did not.

They loved me. We loved each other.

We still do.

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