Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hen Party

This past weekend was spent in the company of nine remarkable women in a cabin near Pine Mountain, Georgia. This is the third reunion we have had over the past year; the other two being dinner in Peachtree City, and a meal in Thomaston. We thought that we were ready to step out and spend enough time together to truly have a "Girls Weekend" - since our children are getting older and we realized that we blinked and it has been almost thirty years since we put on our caps and gowns and received our diplomas.

It feels more like...well...YESTERDAY. So with that in mind...we really didn't want to waste any more time.

The cabin was chosen and the invitation to have this weekend was extended about six months ago. Many of us were on board immediately. We knew from spending time together at dinner that we would have fun...and were excited at the prospect of actually having enough time together to truly catch up. Life is usually far too busy for us to spend any time looking back...we are doing all that we can in the here and now with our eyes locked in on the future. The past just seems to get neglected and tucked away...only to be brought out every five years if there are some folks who are organized enough to plan a reunion.

Fortunately, we have had those folks in our class. They've been faithful to put together a reunion for us every five years. I haven't been as faithful...I've only attended two. Lord willing, I won't miss any more.

But, reunions are more "macro" in nature...more broad and less personal. You have time to see everyone...but not enough time to really delve into what is going on in someone's life. Reunions are wonderful...and a great opportunity to reconnect. Yet our intention was to have enough time to truly have conversations about our life's journey, and to recognize that our shared experience of being raised in Thomaston, Georgia and graduating in 1981 bound us to each other in ways that are quite unique and wonderful.

Once the date for the weekend was set, getting commitments to attend was much like herding cats. There were many more who truly wanted to come than actually arrived this weekend. The reasons that some did not come were varied...conflicts in schedules, financial concerns, work, last minute emergencies, and health related problems. Others just felt more comfortable with the occasional dinner and the reunions. That was fine.

But for those of us who were able to make the journey...we all came away feeling glad that we had made the effort from the comments I've seen written back and forth. Personally, I know I am.

We arrived at different points in time...which made the group dynamics a lot more interesting than it would have been otherwise. Several of the girls arrived on Thursday night in a copper 40 year old Cadillac convertible that was not entirely sure that it wanted to be cooperative. One flat tire - changed by a county worker and a prisoner - and carburator-tweaking later, it made it to the cabin.

Although I missed the Thursday night festivities, I understand that the hen party went on well into the all good hen parties should.

On Friday, we participated in a Mary Kay demonstration because one among us is a brand new representative. Nothing will bond you faster than seeing everyone's hair pulled back in a headband while trying to remain on the non-slut side of eyeshadow application. It's a fine me.

Later that afternoon...when everyone had arrived...we descended upon Stubby's Pub for dinner. Shortly after arriving...we realized that we weren't the only Rebels there.

The R.E. Lee Class of 1975 was also in attendance. I turned around to find a family friend and his wife among them, as well as the older brother of one of our classmates. As were two friends from the R.E. Lee Class of 1980 that I hadn't seen in thirty years. They looked like more contemporary versions of the girls I remembered...but certainly not older...which was extremely impressive!

After listening to the band - which was quite talented - but was not singing anything even remotely we recognized - we decided to head back to the cabin. We talked until the wee hours of the night, and then packed it in.

The next morning, a few of us walked for a couple of miles up and down hills, and took time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Having felt a little defeated on a heartbreak hill...we took a second lap just to conquer it. Later that day we walked all over downtown Warm Springs popping in and out of shops. We then all went to dinner...and a few of them started leaving for home...various commitments calling them back.

After dinner at The Bulloch House, we went back to Stubby's Pub for karaoke. Our numbers had dwindled from ten to six...and we were a fairly quiet bunch for the first couple of hours.

It's generally calm before a storm, I hear.

Because after awhile...we decided to sing as a group. Most of us had not performed in public since Lee High Singers in 1981. A couple of us had privately sworn that there was no way we were getting up there. Like...EVER.

Good thing we didn't put money on it.

Because we ended up singing "Play That Funky Music" - VERY loud and with a little bit of gusto. The only thing missing were the roller skates that most of us associate that song with having heard it about a gazillion times at the Sunset Roller Palace in Thomaston.

Our second selection was "I Love Rock 'n Roll" (Joan Jett)...which brought some enthusiasm from the crowd and polite applause from the ladies in the back who were celebrating their 50th high school reunion.

We were then called up to do a rendition of the Pussycat Dolls' song "Don't Cha". We were more..."Don't Cha just want to let us sing the chorus..." because - frankly - that's pretty much all we knew. We'll try to block out the possibility that the two young men who were filming this on their phones have already uploaded our performance to YouTube.


And while all of this was fun and everything...I almost fell out watching one of the girls on the dance floor with the local Fred Astaire (I'm being nice.) There have been some memorable dances that I've witnessed...but this one was definitely in the top 10. I won't elaborate, but let's just say that the only thing missing was someone yelling out "Who's Your Daddy?"

I learned during "The Electric Slide" that I still dance like a white girl...and probably always will. I was boxed in by two very exuberant dancers and an extremely uncooperative pair of flip flops that one of my friends was wearing. I kept stepping on them...would lose my place, and then was ducking the two headed my way while I was apologizing for stepping on her feet...again. "Spastic" would be an understatement. (Note: I didn't even attempt the "Cha Cha Slide." I'm just not woman enough. And that's really okay. Two of the girls had hip ailments this I'm thinking that this was a very wise decision on my part.)

After closing the place down...we headed back to the cabin and talked again until we were basically comatose, got up this morning, packed up, and headed out.

And here I sit writing this with a smile on my face thinking about how much fun it is to spend time with people who remember you when you were young...and are still speaking to you anyway.

Time heals most wounds, you know. We may have been best friends before someone went down one path or another. And here we are again remembering the good times we had...without discussing the not so good ones. A couple of us didn't really know each other because we graduated from either Lee or Upson. What was funny was that we all knew some of the same people...and we were able to figure out pretty much what happened to anyone who happened to cross our minds. Not in a mean way...more of in an interested to know the rest of the story kind of way.

Well, pretty much.

As I spent time with these women I noticed a few things that I suppose I'd always taken for granted when I was among them. Like the generosity of spirit that each one of them possesses. Each of them brought so much food that we could have fed twice our number...easily.

The fact that certain words are drawn out differently than I've heard in Alabama over the past twenty-seven years while a resident of Alabama...but once heard...they are familiar to my ear. The pronunciations and phrases are just different enough, though, for me to notice.

Or that every one of them is wildly successful in at least one area in their lives...and frankly...more than one. They are wives, mothers, caregivers, therapists, administrators, friends, community servants, and amazing women. I am also quite sure that they don't see themselves as wildly successful either. But they are.

In conversations, I learned the depth of their love for their families, the fact that they are not stuck in time...but have blossomed...whether they left Thomaston or stayed. They shoot straight, and they speak the truth. If you don't really want to might not want to ask.

They also have the ability to pay you a compliment in such a way that is so incredibly direct but also so equally heartfelt that it almost takes your breath away.

They support everything...causes, organizations, relatives, people who are having a tough time, and their friends. They don't leave the dishes for someone else...they do them.

Several of us had some "history"...but after all of these years...and with the understanding that everything turned out as it was supposed to...we've all moved on. Time has healed the wounds, such as they were...and replaced them with the understanding that life is too short to worry about holding grudges.

It was a good weekend. I laughed so much sometimes that my face hurt. And while we missed those who were not there...I really loved spending time with those that were. So, Kayla, Chrystie, Tracy, Jan, Angie, Dana, Kayla, Angela and Renda (a guest among us!)...thank you for a wonderful time.

I look forward to the next hen party...and I will miss you all in the interim.

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