Friday, September 7, 2012

saving my life: reunions.

{friend reunion 2012, with the best friend ever}

I've said it before, and I've no doubt I'll say it again: There's a reason Hollywood continues to put out reunion movies, and it has little to do with their quality and a lot to do with nostalgia and friendship and reality. 

Those movies hit close to home without slapping us in the face, and we like that. They make us want to call up our own friends and family and gather together with them as often as we can, no matter what disaster may ensue. (Because real life doesn't often look like what we see on television or at the movies, no matter how many times we try to pretend we live like the cast from Friends.)

I love a good reunion movie, so much so that if you stick me in front of St. Elmo's Fire, I'll come out in record time with my planner ready to schedule a get-together with our nearest and dearest. 

It's how we wound up in Farmersville, Alabama, last December, surrounded by cow pasture and not much else, with little cell phone service and not a whole lot to do. It was wonderful and fun and grace-filled and life-giving, and this past weekend, we did it again, this time with nine of us crammed into our generous friends' home in Spanish Fort, Alabama. 

We took a trip to the beach, ate seafood, sat in front of the television, cheered on our football teams, and gathered around tables. We slept on air mattresses, rejoiced in a couple's pregnancy news, and laughed until tears fell. Some of us read books, some of us played poker and video games, and some of us just sat and did nothing, and that was fine -- encouraged, even. 

Last December, my heart hurt so badly from church, from waking up on Sundays feeling broken. I needed healing, and my friends -- friends I've known since I was 18 and stupid -- helped mend that break. 

This September, I approached the weekend with such joy, and those high expectations, so often disappointed and misunderstood, were met, not because our friends are perfect, but because they are our friends, and they know us and love us and support us and cheer us on. 

I can think of no greater gift than the gift of a friend who loves and respects and admires and admonishes. 

These are our people, and we spent three whole days surrounded by their love and laughter. 

So often, this life is full of the difficult people. The not-so-difficult ones, the wonderful ones? They should be celebrated and enjoyed. 

My time away at college provided me with countless blessings: an education of my whole person, a new perspective on faith and church, a husband who knows me better than most anyone on the planet, a mind for seeking and asking questions. One of the greatest gifts is a friend group who has chosen to love and grow with us, despite distance and time. 

The reunion movies don't often depict the trouble or the sacrifice the planning of a gathering requires. On screen, it happens like magic, and while in real life the result looks like magic, the planning takes work and effort and sacrifice. It takes people who are willing to give up football tickets and cook casseroles, who open up their homes and sleep on floors. 

Low maintenance people -- people who are genuine, who don't put on airs, who require love and appreciation, but not the Ritz -- are hard to come by, but we've managed to find nearly a dozen. 

The best part is, we're nearing almost a decade of friendship, meaning there aren't a lot of unknowns. 

I will sometimes hole up in a corner with a good book, and you know what? My friends appear to be okay with that. They smile, ask me what I'm reading, and they give me the space to enjoy it. 

In turn, I watch, laughing, as they scream over video games and roll my eyes while my husband and our friends stay up until four in the morning playing Spades. 

Ours is a special bond, if I had to guess, forged by an odd mix of Christ and naivete, of faith and the pain that comes with being a freshman in college. 

Aside from a dear friend I've managed to keep since the second grade, these are the people who truly grew up with me, who watched me make that awkward transition from child to adult. 

We've attended each other's weddings, and now we are already celebrating babies. 

It's a gift, and never is that more apparent than when we are together, and I pull out my planner, and no one groans or rolls their eyes, but instead, we all circle dates on calendars, planning the next reunion. It won't look anything like the reunion movies, really -- we're all far too PG for that -- but it will be fun and nostalgic and relaxing. We will challenge each other, encourage one another, play a lot of stupid games together, and leave breathing easier, knowing we don't have to traverse this life, with all its ups and downs, alone. 

1 comment:

Sabrina said...

Thank God almighty for our faithful friends:) I am so glad that you had a great time!