This past weekend - a glorious Texas-style autumn weekend of golden sunshine, blue skies, vivid sunsets and star-filled nights - my house was filled with laughter and voices that have kept me company off and on for more than 30 years...some for more than 40...bringing back memories of those first slumber parties when we ate Doritos, danced, wrapped houses, and told scary stories. Who would have guessed we'd still be giggling together after all these years?
"Friendship is that virtue by which spirits are bound by timeless love and sweetness and out of many are made one." (St. Aelred of Rievaulx wrote that in the 12th century)
I wonder if St. Aelred was talking about friendships he'd had since childhood? I love the image of this quote...
"...timeless...": we're averaging 40 years of friendship
"...love and sweetness...": we're sweeter to each other for sure...no more teenage high drama...and we've become blatantly affectionate. Lots and lots of hugs and kisses and "love you"s whenever we're together.
"...out of many are made one...": we continue to draw closer and closer to one another, like one huge family or one entity, held together by shared memories (and adding to them all the time) and a name: Deer Park.
This time we gathered to celebrate my friend Ann's 51st birthday (click here to read my tribute to Ann written in honor of her 50th birthday last year.)
She arrived from Missouri Friday afternoon. We relaxed and talked a little, then zipped off with Tom to meet Darla, her daughter, Leslie and Clive at the Steiner Ranch Steakhouse, the perfect spot to watch the sunset, listen to music, dance and talk. We lucked out - there was a fabulous band performing that night: Suede. What a flashback to the '70's and '80's! The dancefloor was packed with fans, but we elbowed our way in and danced along with them, transported back to our Uncle Sam's Disco days. What a great surprise to recognize a familiar face on the dancefloor - Audrey, another (younger) Deer Park girl-turned-Austinite that I really only met this summer through another friend, Shari. The world gets smaller and smaller every day, doesn't it? (me with Ann...me with Audrey)
Saturday morning Ann and I enjoyed playing catch-up on the back porch, listening to the rush of the little waterfall tumbling into the pond below us and watching Frankie the guinea dance with his reflection in the French doors. It had been years since we'd had alone time like this!
Soon the other girls rolled in from Deer Park, Temple and Round Rock...Darla, Donna, Rae, Patti and Lisa (an adopted Deer Park girl - she married into us.) Tom visited a little then hit the road in the Suzuki to enjoy some solitude, camping out near the lake. The girls and I ate, drank, hiked, laughed, took lots and lots pictures and then scrambled to get ready to head into Austin to see Jimmy LeFave at Threadgill's. (the girls by my little pond)
What Ann didn't know was that Annie K., another dear friend, had driven in from Colorado just to celebrate Ann's birthday and would be meeting us there. It's hard to believe, but none of us slipped up and gave it away and she was truly surprised. I'm sure that was the best birthday gift she received. (the two Anns together again)
A few more Deer Park-ians met us at Threadgill's - Vickie, Larry, Roy, Ann's sister Becky and her husband Steve. It was an outdoor concert and we hovered near the back so we could talk and dance while we listened to Jimmy. (our group...Jimmy LeFave)
This was one of those weekends when I didn't want to waste a single minute. Ann and I stayed up until almost 3am talking in bed (or was it almost 4am? My eyes and memory aren't what they used to be.) The next morning we were up before anyone else, watching the morning sunlight ease its way down into the hollow.
Ann was the first to leave - she had to catch a flight to Oregon - but the rest of us dragged the weekend out as long as we could, meeting other friends for lunch in Austin. It was hard to finally say goodbye, but it helped knowing there will be a "next time" before very long. The older we get, the more we realize what a precious gift we have in our friendship - some say it's an anomaly, this friendship with former high school classmates that continues to grow larger and larger like a rubber band ball. Many people don't understand how we can still be friends after all these years - or why we would even want to be - considering there have been huge gaps in our friendships.
I don't really understand it myself, but I think that just makes it even more wondrous to me. And to be honest, I'd rather spend time celebrating these friendships than analyzing them...when's the next get-together?
"It doesn't have to be somber to be sacred." (David J. Wolpe)