Last weekend, I travelled to Block Island, R.I., for a reunion weekend with six girlfriends from my grade school and high school. We’ve been getting together every two or three years in different locations for the past several years.
This time it was at the Block Island vacation home of one of our group. Her place – and the island in general – is beautiful, tranquil, and remote. It was some distance by car and then by ferry, but worth every mile.
It was a perfect get-away for kicking back and letting loose. Early in the visit, my one girlfriend – the happily well-read one – set the tone by raising her cocktail in the air and announcing: “This weekend I am nobody’s role model!”
Yes – she is married with children; most of us are (except two).
We did the usual beach/resort things: spent a sunny afternoon at the beach; did a morning hike along bluffs overlooking the Caribbean-blue ocean; visited the local farmer’s market featuring a motley musical band; and shopped in the sea-side town of Old Harbor.
The salt-water breezes kept us cool at all times, and I encountered NO mosquitoes on this island arcadia.
Most late afternoons, we returned to our friend’s house to “enjoy the ocean view.” In other words, for cocktails. Dinners featured excellent seafood either out or at home.
I won’t go on – too much – with effusions of how great my girlfriends are. For one thing, I kind of promised them I wouldn’t write about them.
For another, don’t we all think our friends are great people? We choose to spend precious time with them, so they’re worth it, right?
But isn’t it also true that most of us – all of us? – have wasted time on friends-who-weren’t-friends, at least once or twice in our lives?
I certainly have.
One of the benefits of getting older, however, has been becoming less tolerant of the friends-who-aren’t-really-friends variety. I’ve gotten good at letting those go.
One of the other benefits has been, cherishing the friends who’ve consistently supported you over the years. Who have always been bright lights in your life.
So I’ve hung on to friendships from my earliest school days. As a young girl who was extremely shy but couldn’t wait to leave my hometown, I didn’t expect it to turn out this way. We haven’t all been close at all times, and today we are spread across three states.
But we keep reuniting because it’s fun and good company, and because we value each other. I have been told, more than once, that that is not an easy thing to find.
And it’s even harder to keep.
We are a group of seven women – SEVEN – who all get along, in close company, for at least days at a time. We run the gamut of political and religious views, but we wisely steer clear of controversy.
We aren’t clique-y, we don’t need certain combinations of people present to get along; we all mix well with each other and split up to catch up one-on-one with ease.
Nobody is too bossy (despite some best efforts), nobody is wimpy, and nobody is boring. At the same time, everyone is reasonable.
They all bring it, what you hope for in a friend – lots of laughs, substance, wisdom, honesty, strength, loyalty.
As one of us has often said: “One requirement for my friends is that they have to be entertaining.”
During our trip, another said: “I love how you guys all amuse me, in your different ways.”
Another friend asked me, when I did something she considered a little quirky: “Are you like this around your siblings?” (She knows I’m close with them.) I said, “Yes.” She said, “Oh good.”
Yes, it’s good – I am always myself with this group, always engaged, always happy.
When I add it up, each of these friends of mine – who pledged this past weekend to be “nobody’s role model” – is a role model nonetheless.
Of how to be a true friend.