Birthdays and Reunions
Birthdays are exciting, yet predictable. I always look forward to the upcoming one and I can’t believe how quickly another year passes. If we choose, we can be the centerpiece of our special day. I try to surround myself with family and friends on each birthday, but, I have learned that the guest list can change and it is out of my control. Around my mind’s table, the vacant chairs remind me of the loved ones who are no longer with me to celebrate another year. But fortunately, the circle of life has brought tiny new faces, who represent the next generation and help to fill the emptiness.
I know I am getting older and I don’t mind because the footsteps of my youth are still warm. I look forward to blowing out candles on a cake and opening silly cards. At the end of the day, I stop for a moment to look back with gratitude at all of the gifts that I have been given over the years. I am very lucky. And then I start the next year by looking forward with hope and anticipation of what it will bring.
Why did I wait so long to go back to my alma mater to reconnect with my friends? I don’t really have an answer. I am just glad that when my college roommate encouraged me a few weeks ago to come back for a sorority reunion that I accepted her offer and went.
It was the 75th Anniversary of our Gamma Beta Chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha at Washington College and there was going to be a big turnout of “sisters” from my undergraduate years. I didn’t want to miss it! My wonderful roommate and I were going to share quarters just like the old days with an adjoining room for my “big sister” and her dear friend who flew in from out of state.
Last to arrive, when I opened the door to the motel room, time evaporated and there we were, “sisters”, hugging, laughing, and squealing with delight like college co-eds. For some of us, over 40 years had gone by, but the non-stop chatter plugged up the space like a new layer of mortar holding firmly together the bricks of our long ago established friendships. Pictures of children and grandchildren rather than those of athletic boyfriends or “home town honeys” were shared this time around. Exchanged plans for future retirement years took the place of upcoming weekend fraternity party adventures like we used to do in the old days.
Yes, we all acknowledged that time had passed and with it came changes. But that did not stop the laughter. The next morning when we had to attach our tiny sorority pins to our clothing, our less youthful fingers fumbled with these symbols of eternal friendship and perspiration beaded up on our foreheads as we concentrated on finding the tiny clasps through the necessary magnified glasses perched on the end of our noses. Laughter once again filled the air.
Later in the day conversations were interrupted mid-sentence with a “Now what was I going to say….?” But instead of finding fault with our collective temporary memory loss, we all threw our heads back and gave a hearty laugh and had another sip of our drinks. Why had I missed out on the opportunity of such fun for so many years? I don’t know?
Birthdays and Reunions!?
Birthdays and Reunions are rare opportunities to remind us of who we really are. They bring into focus our essence, our true being. Like the sediment that falls to the bottom of a jug of freshly squeezed apple cider, the basic ingredient is always there. Time and circumstances swirl around the thick vital part of our core, but when it all settles, it is still there.
Laughter. I have decided that is my essence. It has been a constant factor in my life. As a little girl I was silly. As a teenager I was goofy. As a young adult I was fun-loving. As a senior citizen I am lively. Laughter has brought me through the tough times and it has filled my heart with joy in the good times. It always has filtered through the layers. The creases on the side of my mouth document the sixty one years of this explosive sound of amusement and I would never want them to go away. Laughter is simply a part of me.
What is your essence? What always sinks to the bottom and is the foundation of your soul? Let me know, I would love to hear!
Meanwhile, I hope you have a Happy Birthday on your special day! And go to a Reunion, at least once in your life?