What do you talk about when you’re eating lunch with friends from grade school? I wondered about this as I drove to meet a long lost group of women friends, most of whom I hadn’t seen much of since I left for college. I found out that you rush to catch up on the last many years, reminisce, fill in gaps in each other’s memories, and take care of old business.
Peggy led off with old business. “I’m sorry,” she said to Darlene, “for pushing you into the sticker bushes in third grade.”
Apologies accepted and now over, four of us told the story of taking our bicycles onto a ferry, which landed us many miles away from home. From there we rode to a piece of beach property owned by one girl’s parents and camped. We slept in sleeping bags. Out in the open. No way to contact the outside world. No other people nearby, except those passing by on the roadway that bordered the stretch of beach we camped on. We had enough food for one night but no money to buy more. We went into town and used a pay phone to call home; one girl’s father brought us more food the next day. And left. It was a great adventure. Especially when you realize that if parents let their kids loose like this now, they’d be getting a visit from Child Protective Services.
Returning to the present, we talked about grandkids, marriages, divorces and separations, illness, losing parents or still having parents, travel, and some of the other things that typically occur in long and full lives. And everyone asked at least once, “Whatever happened to (insert classmate name here)?”
All of us live within 25 miles of each other, a few in the same neighborhood we grew up in. Yet we’ve kept apart for more years than I want to see in print.
As a rule, I’ve been inclined to look ahead and dismiss the past. I’m rethinking that strategy. There’s nothing quite like reminiscing with childhood friends to make me feel grateful for being able to grow up in the stable environment I did, with a solid network of friends, who as adults are more likely to help you when you encounter stickers in life than to push you into them.