I recently read Same Sweet Girls,a novel by noted southern author Cassandra King, a native of my town. My college brought her to campus a few weeks ago to discuss her book about six college friends who meet twice yearly to continue their friendship over their adult lives. Though her book is not autobiographical, the idea came from her own experience with six college friends. She had just met with them the weekend before she visited in our town, and I was delighted to tell her about my impending visit to Texas to meet five of my high school girlfriends. Her eyes sparked as she wished me the same delight in my friendships that she had enjoyed in hers.
I returned today from my Same Sweet Girls reunion; it was magical! Among us were four who had been together four times in recent years; one who joined us last year; and another who joined us just this year. Among us, some could trace their friendships back to elementary school, but all of us were friends beginning in the seventh grade. So, for seven impressionable years---six years in school together and less so the first year of college as we went different ways and weaned away from each other---our lives were closely entertwined. Together, we endured puberty, shared slumber parties, developed and sharpened academic skills, enjoyed extracurricular activities, found boyfriends and lost them, suffered through President Kennedy's assassination, supported each other through often unknown family crises, learned the value of friendship, and then were strong enough to go off to separate colleges. Shortly after that, Life happened---college demands, marriages, jobs, children, moves, and so we were separated by time and space and circumstance. But through it all, the bond was there---the memories, the experiences, the shared youth and discovery, and the strength that formed the framework for who we have become.
This weekend, despite the decades that have ensued, took us back to that place so many years ago. We were girls again at a sleep-over---giggling, sharing, supporting, loving. Yes, we are the same sweet girls---just stronger, more resilient, more balanced. We've experienced joy, happiness, loss, health issues, and family issues, and we have survived. We are better grounded now, less likely to be thrown off balance by Life events---sort of like the Weebles our children played with--Weebles wobble but they won't fall down.
Today, we are six mature women shaped both by our early years together and our own separate experiences since. But we are still the same sweet girls: the pensive, contemplative one---the intellectual one still; the earth mother, always wise beyond her years; the cheerleader---then and now cheering us on, looking for the sunshine; the nurturer who is about to take on one of the biggest challenges of her life; the steady one, grounded in her faith; and the off-the-chart extrovert who can be overexuberant.
Different as we are, we are bound by our common experiences and our need to revisit those experiences. There will be time for other reunions.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Posted by kay at 3:16 PM