Four friends, forty years…
The gift of friendship has got to be one of the most life-affirming, sustaining and positive forces in anyone’s life. Forty years ago, these three girls and I were inseparable, the terror of Tyro Junior High School. After college, careers, children, illness, marriage and divorce, broken hearts, second chances, getting skinny and then getting fat again, we reconnected with each other about five years ago deeming ourselves “Steel Magnolias” as an ode to our Southerness and our ability to persevere through the ups and downs life.
Some days, I feel so, well old… but when we are together, it’s like the years simply melt away. I surprised them last night with this picture I found among some old family photos. After much analysis of our clothing and hairstyles, we believe this was taken around Christmas, 1975. If you look closely you can see Marilyn (who went by the nickname Ralph) seated, posing as Santa dressed in an impromptu Santa outfit: toilet paper beard, toboggan and Christmas bow hat. Vick’s the child on Santa’s lap while Tracy and I look on. Then just as now, you can see I was the daydreamer off in my own little world and Tracy, the beautiful blond continues to tower over everyone else’s head.
After several bottles of wine, crackers and cheese, pizza and two variety packs of pizza, we attempted to re-create the original photo. Trying to coerce the cooperation of the cell phone, the props and all parties involved was a bit like herding cats. Tracy sent me the photos and I’m like, “Are you serious, this is the best one? You’ve got to be kidding me…”
On sure, on the outside, we’ve gained the weight- equivalent of another middle-aged woman; everyone’s fatter and our boobs have migrated impossibly south. We’re using night serums on our face and waxing our chins. The irony is that if you asked any of us the most surprising thing about a friendship spanning more than forty years, is how little we have changed.
The four of us are as different as night and day. We’re teachers and CPA’s, hospital administrators and creative types, preppies and earth puppies, direct and evasive, sex kittens and hermits. There’s several tattoos in very strategic places among the group. Who and where, my lips are sealed. Today, we’re still there for each other in all the old ways, but more so. We laugh harder and cry more easily. We listen more carefully and we’re not afraid to ask the hard questions or disagree. We hug harder and hang on longer. They are my “go to girls” and I’ve no doubt they would love me through anything. They’d help me hide a body, break me out of jail or at least hide a key in my cheesecake.
Because if we’re together, you bet there will be dessert!
If you have friends like these, thank God for that gift. They will go with you through hell and back. If you don’t have, make a phone call or look up your old friends on Facebook. Time leaves it mark on all of us but good friends and laughter are truly the best antidote for aging.
Merry Christmas Mags!!!