Wednesday afternoon I had the chance to spend an hour on the phone with my friend Tamara whom I have known since graduate school, ever since a professor suggested we commute together to our student teaching placements at the same high school. Though neither of us were thrilled with the suggestion, we decided to give it a whirl--out of our mutual respect for our professor and in the interest of saving hard-to-come-by gas money. We have been friends ever since. Because she lives in the Pacific Northwest, a 3 hour time difference, it is sometimes difficult to schedule time to talk. When she is settling down after dinner with her husband and children, I am usually already in bed. But Wednesday, as she waited for her parents to arrive for their holiday visit, we had a chance to talk. I made a martini, she poured a glass of wine, and we talked and talked, as easily as we did on I-93 while sipping coffee from the Dairy Dome. We shared holiday greetings and caught up on the latest.
Yesterday, during a getaway to Philadelphia with her husband, my dear friend Deanna called. After a shaky start (at best) as residents of the third floor of Mesick Hall at Simmons College, Deanna and I have been very close. She had hosted Thanksgiving for her family and close friends in Baltimore, where she lives, and I had texted her to see how things went. Initially she replied via text, then called while her husband was checking emails in the hotel business center. We had just spoken earlier in the week, but we customarily talk at least once a week, and--as with Tamara and Jill--every holiday deserves its own special call.
Jill is my oldest friend; we have known each other since we were 12. Thanksgiving morning she called while she was preparing turkey to take to her sister-in-law and I was getting ready to leave for my family Thanksgiving at my cousin Henry and Dawn's. Jill lives in California now, and sometimes we go months without talking (that darn time difference again!) but every year, religiously, we speak on Thanksgiving and Christmas. We also made plans to speak at greater length over the weekend, which we did earlier tonight. For an hour we caught up on things big and small and called each other sis, as we had become accustomed while she lived here and we shared families.
While on the phone with Jill, I remembered that it was our 25th high school reunion tonight. Happy reunion, Jill said. You too, I replied. For Jill it would have been three thousand miles to travel to attend and therefore excusable to skip the trip. For me it was only five miles, but it was a journey I could not take. I would not take.
I live in a world, come from a town, where people and their worth are measured by houses and spouses. And I am not willing to stand--again--in a restaurant in awkward silence with old classmates because they don't know what to talk about when I reveal no, I'm not married; no, I have no children: no, I rent. Who cares that after I graduated high in my class and delivered the senior commencement speech I went on to college in Boston and spent a decade of my life finding professional success there, that I have been on business trips to some of the greatest cities in the US and have traveled to Europe on my own subsequent to my decision to give up expense accounts to teach high school instead? My twentieth reunion was not a great experience. Tonight, I chose to honor myself, as I learned to somewhere along my spectacular journey. I stayed home.
Tomorrow I will talk to my friend Amy, affectionately referred to as "the new Jill," my new, local BFF whom I see every day at work and go out with for dinner and drinks (sometimes just drinks) about once a week, and who knows and understands me the way Jill and Deanna and Tamara do. At the end of the weekend I will have reunited with important people in my life--friends and family near and far--on the phone and in person, and I won't be teary anymore about missing my high school reunion.