One of our top priorities when becoming gypsy -- as opposed to empty -- nesters was to use our new found freedom to see family and friends that we hadn't been able to visit in years.
While finishing up our childrearing years on a Caribbean island a thousand miles from the mainland we were understandably limited in our opportunities to drop in on folks.
Now that we are unfettered, we have had the opportunity to reunite with quite a few of our old friends. In every case I've noticed that we picked up right where we left off. It was like ten days had past since our last visit, not ten years.
Is this a function of getting a little older? I think that's a big part of it. After putting a few decades behind us we have learned not to manufacture troubles. We could look for a reason to be pissy, get all "Why haven't you kept in touch better?" or we can be thrilled to see an old chum. Fortunately, everyone chose the latter.
One of these friends, whom I hadn't seen in over a decade, really opened my eyes. Our last encounter was under less-than-stellar circumstances and I was a little anxious about seeing him again.
Driving the point home a little harder was the fact that we were seeing each other for the first time in years at the funeral of a mutual friend who had shared in some of the tribulations.
My fear melted away as soon as he reached out to greet me. It turned out that neither of us harbored any hard feelings and after a while he said "David, when we get to this age it's just not worth worrying about crap like that."
He was so right. We had years of friendship to look back on so why dwell on the rough patches?
All of our shared experiences, good and bad, bind friendships together. Now we can recall and retell these events, embellishing them into tall tales, at our reunions. These invariably end in guffaws of crazy laughter. "Remember that time we...?"
My musician friends and I predictably return to war stories from our years on the road. There is nearly a battlefield type camaraderie that touring days, weeks and months on end trapped together on a bus develops. The band and crew become the entire known world in a crazy "us against them" roadshow. The names we would give these tours said it all. Humor is definitely your buddy deep in the throes of a "mud and dust," "death march to Bataan" or "bring your helmet" tour.
At times the laughing jags would take the stage with us. I recall one night when it was a little hard to sing while doubled over, crying and drooling uncontrollably over something our lunatic keyboard player had whispered in my ear right before the second verse. We literally ended up on our knees and couldn't even play anymore. I always liked giving the audience their money's worth.
For Veronica and her friends, the conversation tends to gravitate to zany antics involving kids and times they scared the living crap out of us.
Sure, NOW we can laugh about when one of our little ones destroyed her tibia in an accident at Veronica's best friend's house while we were attending a pre-cell-phone wedding -- since she is perfectly ambulatory 20 years later -- but at the time, not so much.
The kind of fear we all felt when dealing with a crisis like that -- and the relief after it subsided -- really cements a friendship. On the bright side, we got to watch a four-year-old crab scoot around on her butt in a radiation-green hip-to-toe cast for weeks. THAT's entertainment.
Much more than our hairlines, waistlines or an offspring's ability to walk has changed over years. Our friends' children have grown in our absence -- all of them looking nothing like the mental picture we had of them as ten-year-olds with missing front teeth. Most of them are adults now. Weird how that happens.
An added bonus to these renewed relationships is that technology has made it a whole lot easier to stay in touch. Now we can have much more contact than we ever did before the rise of social media. Facebook is no doubt the king of old-friend-finding-and-keeping-in-touch-with, but Twitter, texting and email are all members of the royal court. With their help we can keep tabs on the antics of friends and family online with just a few clicks a day.
Speaking of family, in the best of worlds we should be able to put past grievances behind us but, for no apparent reason, no one seems to hold a grudge like kin. Even though our new found freedom has granted us opportunities to visit family members we hadn't seen in years, some of the get-togethers were still a bit strained.
How can kids who nearly killed each other on a regular basis back in childhood carry resentment over completely non-lethal misunderstandings as adults?
I don't have an answer but I do have a suggestion...
When we get to this age it's just not worth worrying about crap like that.