A few weeks ago, we piled into the car and took a road trip to Virginia Beach for an informal reunion with a group of friends from college and their families. We took off excited for the brief escape from our daily routine and especially excited to see our friends, many of whom we had only seen quickly at a wedding a few years ago. There was also the added anticipation and nervousness of getting to watch all of our kids meet and interact for the first time.
The weekend, for me, turned out to be more like stepping into the comforts of a family reunion or putting on your favorite old sweatshirt. Familiar, warm, and home-like. College was a fairly long time ago at this point (even though I would like to believe that it wasn't). And when I sit back to think about it, this was the group that I spent a majority of my time with, but it was such a brief amount of time in the grand scheme of life, especially compared to the amount of "life" that has happened since. Those bonds that we formed during those times, though, are still special. So much so, that although years have past, everyone got caught up on all of each other's significant life events, and then it felt like we were right back where we left off at that younger moment in time. Laughing, reminiscing, and poking (good-humored) fun at each other. Nothing felt strange or out of place even though we all currently live very different lives. And I think that our kids felt that, because they warmed right up to each other too.
On the way back, we made a stop at my college roommate's house just outside of Washington DC. She is one of my absolute dearest friends, and we keep in touch much more regularly. But, we live far apart and have busy lives, and getting together regularly is a little challenging. Sitting on her couch in our socks, though, we may as well have been back in our old apartment, sitting on our old hand-me-down couch and talking about how excited we were for next week's episode of Grey's Anatomy and 24.
As we drove back to the northeast, Brian and I talked about how we wished that we all lived closer, and hypothetically planned out how we could take trips to Virginia more often. All of the thoughts that I'm sure everyone has after a good vacation.
I returned back to my regular daily routine the next morning (of course a little more sluggishly than usual), and I had a few emails and text messages, all from newer friends that I have made here in Connecticut. Some wanted to connect about upcoming events, some were checking in to see how our getaway went, some just wanted to report the exciting new details of their lives. And maybe it was because I was still feeling all of those good feelings from being around old friends, but as I went through all of these messages, I really came to appreciate the value of new friends also.
We may not have lived together, or stayed up late studying together, or (somehow) navigated early adulthood together, but we are navigating our current lives together: parenting, work and careers, personal lives, and that delicate balance between them all.
So what I guess I am saying is just that I feel lucky, for each of those people who seem to come into our lives at just the right time. For the memories, the advice, the laughs, and (most importantly) for knowing all of our silly little quirks and being our friends anyway. Friendship really is a special gift.