We gathered ourselves together because we were falling apart–apart. I was in charge (oh why am I always the one in charge?) of making it happen last summer, so I rented a room for the four of us in a century old house (because I’m
cheap vintage like that) and dubbed it the “old friends are better than gold” weekend. I’m kitschy like that, and cling to a theme for direction. “Old school”, “old ladies”, ya, ya…we all concede nobody’s getting any younger. I borrowed some vintage dresses/costumes from a collector and brought my camera that was able to shoot on a timer. It was midnight when this picture (plus 58, minus 7) was taken.
I swear we had not been drinking. We didn’t need to. We were so giddy from the whole idea of gussying up for a secret photo shoot that one snicker inevitably led to another. Shhh! We don’t want to wake the bed & breakfast hostess in the back room…How did I get the camera to self-shoot yesterday?… Where are those instructions??…Pull your dress down; we’re not taking those kind of pictures!…What should we be looking at?… Should we be silly or serious?…Oh no, she’s coming!…Stop laughing!
We had been caught in the act of playing dress-up…at our age! The house hostess shuffled in, wrapped up in her house coat. She raised an inquisitive eyebrow, stuck a fork in the pie she’d foraged out of the fridge and offered to take a few photos for us. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it well that “It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” Sure, it was stupid how we tried to be flapper girls at midnight, but we needed a magical flight from reality.
We purposefully reminded ourselves to “let it go” and to change the subject when conversation got too heavy, as it did when we talked of our collective losses. The truth is, we had lost fathers to cancer, mothers to Alzheimer’s, energies to the wind, and body parts to gravity. But we could still laugh.
For one summer night, we were neither wives, caretakers, nurses, chauffeurs, cooks or maids. We were teenagers who giggled and rattled the old house screen doors and mom checked up on us in our room. Our laughter filled the foyer with an aroma more intoxicating than the sweetest potpourri. We squeaked like rusty gold hinges, hanging on to a shared fanciful and fleeting moment. Last summer’s memories of my “old friends” are beautifully golden and I think the time’s ripe for another one of our gatherings.
“I count myself in nothing else so happy as in a soul remembering my good friends.”-William Shakespeare
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