All You Need Is Love
It all started with an email.
Late last August I received an email from my niece. I don't know why, but I looked at all the email addresses that it had been forwarded to and saw a familiar name from high school days, some 35 years ago. One was her maiden name (her father), then her married name (her son), then I saw the name that I knew I had to contact. I emailed Linda with "Is it You?" in the subject line. It took 3 days, but I got the answer I had hoped for!
But, let me start at the beginning. When I was 2 years old, the story goes, a family moved in across the street from our house in Michigan Center. They had a daughter the same age as me! Debbie and I became friends, went to kindergarten together, took dance classes together, even had the chicken pox and the mumps together! We went to Girl Scout camp together, and graduated from Michigan Center High School together. We each married, and moved to the same town - together, again! We had our children the same years, then grandchildren. And even though I have since moved again, we still go on a vacation together each year.
We were the exception. Although some of our group of friends from high school kept in touch with one or two of the others through the years, none of them saw each other on a regular basis.
This is probably pretty common among high school friends. But our class was special, at least to us. Living in the small town of Michigan Center, we went to school with the same kids from kindergarten through high school graduation. We played together, walked to school together, we knew each other's families, our mothers had coffee together, our siblings went to school together, we learned to drive together, we double-dated, we shared secrets, we made pacts, we were FRIENDS! Our close circle of friends numbered 10-20 at any given time, but our senior class had roughly 120 students, and we knew each one of them, and considered all of them friends! It was a special class, that Class of '72.
We heard from, or about, a few of the girls over the years, or exchanged Christmas cards, but had pretty much lost touch with most of them, each of us just busy with life and raising families of our own. Many didn't attend class reunions, and the last was our 25th, 10 years ago.
Through the years Debbie often said that she'd love to get all the girls together and meet in Las Vegas. We knew that two of them lived in California, one was in Virginia, and we thought another was in Colorado. At least two, we knew, had stayed in Michigan Center. We weren't sure about the whereabouts of the others. How would we ever find them?
Then came the return email. Linda couldn't have been more surprised to hear from me. In fact, she almost didn't open the mysterious email from the unknown sender. After the shock wore off, I told her that we would love to round everyone up and get together for a "girls weekend" in Vegas, and asked if she knew how to contact anyone.
I quickly told Debbie her wish had come true! We were able to contact two more, who contacted a few more, and finally the last one on our list was found - living only 2 hours from Linda, in Colorado!
When told of our plan to get all of us together, 14 of our long-lost girlfriends replied with an instant and enthusiastic YES!
Plans were put in motion. A date was set. I created a blog to help with communication and to post pictures online. We were quickly back in high school with all the wonderful memories! It was as if thirty-five years had not passed.
We soon learned that one of the California girls was coming home to visit family for the first time in 18 years. Those of us living closest to "home" were excited to be able see her again and made plans to be in Michigan Center while she was there. What we thought would be a quiet dinner spent catching up, turned into a mini-reunion filled with laughter! When word got out that she was going to be in town and some of the "locals" would be there, others made plans to come home, too. We were also able to contact a few of the "boys" from our class, who were eager to meet, as well.
On the afternoon of this mini-reunion, two girls that came from California, and two from Colorado couldn't wait to see each other, so they met for lunch with Dawn and Candy, classmates who lived in town. Dawn took them on a tour to see how much Michigan Center had changed in 35 years. Along the way the memories and stories started flowing, with more laughter! They went to the high school where the Principal was good enough to give them a tour of the school where we spent so much time and created so many memories.
Finally, the mini- reunion! As each one walked in we looked at each other in amazement, each trying to figure out who the others were! We hugged, we laughed, and we shared stories and pictures of all those years together. It was like old times! In all, we had seventeen of our friends back together for an evening of catching up, laughter and fun.
That was just the beginning!
In early January thirteen "Center Girls" finally met in Las Vegas. (Dawn was unable to travel with us due to a family medical emergency.)
This was the first time since graduation, in 1972, that we were ALL together. Yet, it seemed like yesterday. We laughed, we cried, we hugged, we shared our lives, and our pictures, our sorrows, our celebrations, and then we laughed and hugged some more. And, since Dawn couldn't be with us, we had her picture enlarged and took her with us everywhere we went so that she could be included in our pictures and our memories!
We couldn't look at each other without smiling. It was an unbelievable feeling to be with the ones who knew you "when". Who shared so much of who you were. Who embraced who you've become.
While in Vegas we saw "Cirque du Soleil - Love", the entire show performed to music by The Beatles. The show was incredible and it was absolutely amazing to share that event together. The closing song was "All You Need Is Love", summing up our weekend perfectly.
We grew up at a good time, in a good place. Fourteen women who grew up together, then drifted apart, together again, after thirty-five years, as if not a day had gone by. Energized and encouraged by each other. Determined to meet again.
All you need is love!
Tuesday, December 10, 2013