A group of friends gathered for a reunion, a casual evening of conversation, salad, pizza and rum cake. Convening at the shore, we breathed deeply the salty sea air, sipped wine, and gazed at the shimmering lights of homes and businesses lining the beach. Not an unusual occurrence as people all over the country did the same thing, celebrating family, friendships and the Fourth of July, enjoying the opportunity to spend time together.
Our get-together was unusual because one of the attendees was lost to our crowd for over twenty years.
Couples from various cities along the Eastern seaboard settled in a small Pennsylvania town during the 1970’s, becoming friends, raising kids and celebrating milestone events together.
Every year we assembled for the Fourth of July at a local park. Hauling buckets of chicken along with other picnic foods, chairs and blankets, we colonized the grassy hillside for the evening. Kids roamed but always returned, lured by the appetite-inducing aroma of Roy Rogers’ fried chicken. The local symphony performed, culminating in a rousing rendition of the 1812 Overture complete with vintage canon fire and fireworks illuminating the night sky.
The evening over, everyone slowly trudged back to the parking lot, hauling empty coolers, carrying exhausted children, dropping into their cars, waiting in a long line to exit the lot and finally drive home.
Eventually families moved away, others divorced. Some kept in touch, some did not.
Years passed, actually more than a score of years, and an absent friend reaches out.
The holiday weekend proved an ideal opportunity for far-flung friends to reunite and welcome our long-lost comrade.
Sixty-somethings marveled over the fact no one changed much over the past two decades, the assistance of night lighting and wine supporting our valued opinions. Several retired over the past couple of years, attaining new achievements as senior citizens - receiving Medicare cards, collecting Social Security, celebrating landmark birthdays – 60, 65, 70.
Although reluctant to admit it, I turned 65 in June. Magazine articles, talk show hosts and guests insist age is just a chronological number; it is all about how one feels.
Well, in June I felt miserable. The ailment passed, and hopefully the young-at-heart mood returned wholeheartedly.
Hub and I enjoyed the weekend at home, but lots of people loaded their cars with beach equipment and headed to the shore. After spending hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic, they settled temporarily on our island. I never saw our town so busy. Speaking to others with a longer history on the island, the assessment was echoed. Beautiful weather and a long weekend created an opportunity to enjoy surf, sand, family and friends.
What could be better than that?
Here's to good, not so old friends!
And in the spirit of full disclosure,
I am toasting with my girlfriend's
homemade mint tea.