The End of an Era

In the beginning, there were four. The foundation of our friendship was built on high school connections: playing violin in orchestra, attending Key Club meetings, spending a month in Spain on the junior class trip. Our days were filled analyzing typical teenage dramas (boys, parents, boys, jobs, homework, college plans, boys). None of us planned on ending up in the town we had gone to high school in, as each of us yearned to explore our possibilities and desperately wanted to get as far away from our parents as possible. But somehow after a chunk of time spent at college or working or traveling, we found ourselves back in Missoula at the same point in time.

As slightly older, and somewhat wiser, versions of ourselves, we were happy to find that our connection remained. We met for sporadic coffee dates, happy hours and Sex in the City marathons. But when B. decided to take the leap and go to graduate school in Portland, we decided to take advantage of the short months we had left before the four of us became three.

The Sunday brunch date was born, and we continued to meet every week even after B. had moved. Lily was born about a year later, and our weekly dates became even more valuable to me. They represented something bigger than a simple get-together with friends. That hour or two every week meant a time for me to be someone other than “mama.” It was time to talk and laugh and cry about the intimate details of our lives and to get the opinions and viewpoints from women I highly admire and respect. When else could I have those questions answered that only close girlfriends know how to respond to? L. and M. didn’t have kids and couldn’t possibly understand the worries, woes and tiny joys that made up my daily life, but they never stopped listening. I still cherish the long phone catch-ups with B., but it just isn’t the same as being face to face.

Four years later when much has changed in each of our lives, our brunch date has remained a constant. That is, until recently. When another week passes without having time for brunch, I try to host a drink night, schedule a play date, meet for a quick lunch – but nothing has elapsed. We are finding that balancing all the different aspects of our lives does not allow for a weekly meeting. M. said it perfectly the other day, “How can I justify spending two hours with my friends when I haven’t spent longer than five minutes talking to my husband without the kids screaming in the background?”

I have experienced the change and shift and end of various friendships – this is the reality of relationships. I know that we will never again be those 15 year old girls, sitting on the front porch of one our parent’s houses, drinking root beer floats and talking about how fast the summer went by. And I would never wish to be those girls again, as I love the women we have become.

But until this moment, I thought I was immune to the inevitable loss of friends that happens after you “grow up.” I have heard so many stories about women losing touch (especially after kids come into the picture) because there are only so many hours in a day and more things on your to-do list than you could ever begin to accomplish. Maybe I have just been in denial or have unrealistic expectations. The more I think about it, the more I realize that we are an anomaly, an exception to the norm. I don’t know any other group of 20 & 30-something women who continue to meet on a weekly basis with their high school girlfriends.

On one hand, I understand. Of course I do; I am living the balancing act everyday. But the reality for me is that if I don’t schedule something (especially something that falls into the “fun” category), it just doesn’t happen. I don’t have room for spontaneity in my life – baby sitters don’t really like being on call for when I happen to get the whim to go out. I can’t grasp the fact that out of the 168 hours that exist per week, we can’t seem to find a mere two hours to spend together.

I foresee a future of chatting on the phone once in a while, exchanging Christmas cards and going out for a meal on our birthdays (if we’re lucky), but otherwise remaining absent from each others lives. These are not the kind of friends I want us to turn into.

I realize that a loss of our old routine does not equate to the end of our friendship, but it does signify the end of an era. I suppose that I should focus on being thankful for all of the Sunday brunches I have under my belt and for having friendships built on such strong foundations and sharing deep histories. But I won’t ever stop hoping that seeing each other on a regular basis isn’t completely out of the question.

B. – I miss you.

L. & M. – How about brunch? (You know I’ll never stop trying).

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3 Responses to The End of an Era

  1. Zuma says:

    Oh Anya,
    How well you describe the longing to connect and stay connected to those girlfriends…the ones who knew you when. Having just returned from my Fabulous Fifty Reunion with 6 of my girlfriends from high school your words touched me. Some of us had not seen or spoken to each other since our graduation celebration 33 years ago. Most of us didn’t have any knowledge of where each had ended up. I knew that when we reunited that our lives would be very different and I suspected that we may not share similar political and religious views or lifestyles. We didn’t but that stuff did not matter. What we quickly discovered is that we all felt so grateful to have found each other. We enjoyed sharing our lives and revealing who we had become and how we had gotten there. We opened up to each other in ways that we never could have as teenagers. We revealed ourselves, reached out and offered support. It was such a blessing. Reminiscing about high school days, the choices we made, the risks that we took and how lucky we were to have made it through. We sang, we played and we danced. And the laughs, oh my the laughs. I laughed SO much this weekend ……….. After our last dinner together (complete with singing the theme song to the Mary Tyler More Show in the restaurant) B. said “I can’t believe how quickly we reverted back to high school”. And as the weekend wound down with the thought of heading back home, S. said “It feels like THIS is our real life”. What a gift it was. (see photo link on my facebook page) We discussed making plans to get together again in two years. We all expressed interest in visiting each others place, longing to know more. Longing to keep the connection that we made….longing to continue to be girlfriends. Never, Never stop trying! I love you!, Zuma–

  2. Marijke says:

    Love your story and thought… keep up the dreams… and the brunches will be there…. again some day… if not…. there will be dinners, breakfast, bringing kids to school, meeting at the ballet class etc etc


  3. beth says:

    i don’t doubt that, that old, strong, oak-tree of a tradition will grow once again. maybe, it just needs a little L.ight, M.iracle-grow, and A.ffection. besides, a seed to a new tradition has been planted. in november we will tend a new garden, one with many B.looms.


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