After an hour and ten-minute drive, I pulled up to the restaurant, sitting outside in my freezing cold car and text one of my best friends, my first friend when I moved to the neighborhood I grew up in during my teen years, and asked if she was inside yet.
She was. “We’re here in the front corner of the bar!”
I could almost feel the excitement oozing out of that text. We did a thing! 11 girls from our graduating class got together the night before Thanksgiving for a mini-reunion. Some of us had not seen one another in just shy of 20 years.
WTF! How did almost two decades FLY BY?!
I walked into the restaurant, the Four Twelve Project, part-owned by one of the girls at the reunion and her husband and a place you MUST check out if you are anywhere local, and there they were – the girls. I could feel an instant smile appear on my face.
I walked up to the table, many of us just coming in at that same time and we all hugged and started complimenting one another, feeling really comfortable for not being in a group together for a really long time.
I love your hair and your photos were so cute you just posted and I love your Christmas tree and your dog is the best. Women supporting, empowering and raising up other women. Is there anything better??
We found our way to a big, round table and the conversation flowed like water from there.
Some of the girls still live locally and get to see one another often, but some of us are farther away and even in other States.
You wouldn’t know we weren’t all best friends that hung out weekly due to the volume of laughter that came from that table.
I took pause many times and just looked around at this extraordinary group of women. Every single one of them with amazing life stories. Sure we all follow one another on social media, but it is NOT the same as sitting face-to-face and having real conversations.
It was really a trip for me sitting right next to one of my oldest and dearest friends because we fell into a routine like we were teenagers again, even though it had been many, many years since we’d seen one another. We laughed so hard we cried, we text our other friends to make them jealous they weren’t there, we started every sentence with “Oh my god, remember…” and then told some ridiculous story.
I know these girls have gone through challenges in their life, just as I have, and also enjoyed many successes. But the focus of that round table was pure love. We started by mostly sharing stories about our kids, our husbands, our jobs, our pets. And then a shift happened. Our present lives are what they are, but our past is the thing that ties us all together.
Over wine and Moscow mules, we went back to a simpler time. We reminisced, talking about high school and friends and all the things we were up to back in those days.
We made this tentative plan to stay for 2 hours, but I think at the 2-hour mark we were just ordering food and wondering why the hell we don’t get together every year. Even though some of us were hosting the next day or had places to be early, we didn’t care. When you get the chance to do something like this, you embrace it.
After a smorgasbord of food landed on the table, everyone started sharing right away. Try this! You gotta have a bite!
It felt like a family dinner, with really, if I’m being honest…strangers.
I personally don’t live locally and I don’t get to see these girls hardly ever, but something happened at that round table and it all just felt right. It’s scary how much time has gone by, but so comforting to know that there’s a group of girls who knew you when.. who didn’t judge you and liked you for who you were, who don’t judge now and who genuinely are all good and kind people.
There is something about that feeling of nostalgia, especially around our childhood. We were all friends at some of the most vulnerable times of our lives. We weren’t sure who we were yet or what we wanted to do. We went through the awkward middle school years together. We learned how to be in relationships and struggle with broken hearts. We dealt with parents divorcing or siblings going off to college. We toed the line between behaving and acting out. We started jobs and met new friends outside of our small circle. And now coming together as 36/37-year-old women, we know exactly who we are and what we want. And it’s pretty beautiful.
This is the season of feeling nostalgic and that dinner was a great way to kick it all off.
Just the other day one of my favorite Chrismas movies, Prancer, was on. I will forever cry when I watch Jessie in her big, puffy yellow coat walking through the woods or crying to her dad (played by the incomparable Sam Elliott) when he says she is going to live with her aunt because it takes me back to being a little girl and I miss that stage of my life. The stages go by quicker and quicker and it isn’t until we are on to the next that we can really reflect back.
Stop and celebrate where you are right now and cherish each moment.
We didn’t get enough time, girls! And I know we have plans to meet again in a few months and welcome even more girls to the table and I really look forward to that.
Location alone put a group of 11 girls in the same high school, but a craving for connection and one big, round table brought them back together decades later.