Monday, April 16, 2012

Reunion 2012

I’ve just returned from one of my favorite times of the year - our annual reunion with my college girlfriends. It’s debatable which year this marks, 18th or 19th, as our first trips to Cammi’s parents’ lake house started even before graduating from Baylor. Regardless, it's a fantastic tradition.

This year we convened at Nan’s home near Chapel Hill, NC. Not only was it a joy to be in her home (Jeff and their four kiddos vacated to a beach house for the weekend), but Nan went ALL OUT in her preparations and planning. All weekend we hovered over platters of gourmet dishes spread across her kitchen counters. I think her hot-out-of-the-oven iced sugar cookies were my fav. Either those or the queso fondo with roasted green chilis and goat cheese - which Nan whipped up a second night upon request. Add to that a humongous bowl of Cammi’s fresh salsa, ah-mazing tortilla soup, overflowing batches of guac - and this barely scratches the surface.

While Nan’s food and hospitality made this reunion unique, our weekends together pretty much look the same - eating, talking, laughing, perhaps a few tears (some years more than others), rehashing new stories right along with the favorite oldies (that NEVER grow old), and an insane amount of reminiscing. Given the outrageous creativity represented by these gals and their spouses, there’s often albums or videos playing in the background that were produced/ directed/ performed by someone’s blood relative (on that note, Christy Nockel’s new album, Into the Glorious, is a MUST).

This year, amidst the talking/eating gig we’ve got going, we added a never-been-done-before event to our weekend. Saturday evening, Nan’s neighbors hosted their daughter’s wedding in their backyard, which lies directly across the street from Nan’s backyard. Picture white tents, burlap runners, and a zillion white twinkling lights complete with 80s music and a dance floor. We had no choice but to crash it. So after devouring Nan's offering of thin flank steak and cauliflower/ brussell sprouts slaw, we followed the sounds of Journey to those twinkling lights. That is, after Cowden changed into an acceptable outfit.

Walking through a crowd of people we didn’t know, twenty years mysteriously vanished as I watched my friends (Jess and Cammi, in particular) dance their hearts out, singing at the top of their lungs. A wave of remembrance, gratitude, thankfulness, and JOY washed over me. This was so our college experience - dancing to that same 80's music without a care in the world. Just good, clean fun with amazing, DEAR friends. I swallowed a few times to remove the lump in my throat. Right there in the midst of Thriller moves and lyrics, I felt the levity of deep gratitude for these friendships. I couldn’t have orchestrated a bit of this 20 years ago - an absolute gift from God that's added to my foundation of confidence and spiritual growth over two decades.

Jill keeps us young (though she doesn't have much of a challenge with Kristin)
Birthday girls
Kristin and Kirsten
Jill and Cammi
Jessica and Nan
Me and Kristin

Until next time...
At one point in the weekend, someone commented that we’ve known each other longer now than we didn’t know each other. We met at 18, but it's been 21 years since our freshman year. We missed those who couldn’t come this year, but are already looking forward to next year. Until then... the laughter and memories will keep us going.