I am slowly recovering from a Fab50 reunion with six of my closest girlfriends from high school, all graduates during the late 70's.
When I mentioned this visit to people, I was met with incredulous looks.
High school? You're still friends with girls from high school?
I do realize that for some people their best-friends-for-life were met in college. For others, as the psychology department head told we incoming graduate students, this would be the place where sacred, lifelong friendships would form.
But for me? It's always been my high school buds. No question about it.
I was really lucky that way. I moved to a new area the summer before my 8th grade year. A few weeks before school started, two nervous, 13-year-old girls knocked on my front door to meet me. The mother of one of the girls made them introduce themselves, I was to find out later. It was probably more our of nosiness about the new family in town than genuine concern for my wellbeing. But whatever the reason, these two girls became my friends and introduced me to a larger group of girls who became some of the best girlfriends I could ask for.
I've met many friends since then who have become very good friends. Excellent friends. Cherished friends. We relate in a way my high school friends and I don't, or can't, or won't ever relate.
But there's something singularly special about hometown friends. All the shared experiences, a shared larger network of friends and towns people, memories of some of life's most difficult heartaches.
Over this past weekend, here we all were, gathered in my home, the first time a few of them had even been to Texas. All of us 49 or 50 years old. (Come think of it, only ONE of us was actually 50. Poor woman. The rest of us will remain forever 49).
But here's the remarkable thing. As I looked at my friends sitting around my living room, or on my back porch with the sunlight fading, or on a river bank cooling our feet in the spring fed water, I was taking them all in.
I saw not their crow's feet, nor their varying shades of color enhanced hair hiding the gray, nor their extra-padded midlines.
What I saw were laughing teenagers. A seventeen year old running beside me during a field hockey game. A young woman chugging down her first beer and wincing at the god-awful-taste-of-it. A girlfriend crying over a boyfriend betrayal, the first of many.
Over the past recent years, when I have met someone new, someone my own age, I would see a middle-aged woman.
But my childhood friends? The years drop away in an instant. Disappear. Gone. In each other's company, for just a weekend, we are ageless, timeless, forever young.