I had a great weekend. I traveled to Washington D.C. with four other high school buddies. We stayed in Georgetown as guests of another high school friend and his lovely wife. The six of us did the usual reminiscing (which is always good for laughs) but there was more – a lot more – and it was good.
On Saturday we walked to the French Embassy open house and had lunch. (Who knew that cafeteria food could be so awesome!) We visited the Newseum in DC, drank beer at the Tombs ( our host’s old Georgetown haunt), toured the campus, and took in a lacrosse game. Then we reminisced some more, including talking about the ever-increasing list of classmates who are no longer with us. That’s part of life too. On Sunday morning, several of us went to Mass on campus and listened to an outstanding homily from a young Jesuit priest. The message in four words: “Love will be redeemed.” Amen.
What I take most pleasure in these get-togethers with old friends is how they also have become “new” friends. Each of us has different life stories to tell. Some of them are stories of recent struggles. I appreciate hearing all of their stories, not just because I care about these guys (which I very much do) but because their lives can teach me about lives well lived, through good and bad.
Our host in particular is in a special place and time in his life. He spent most of his post-college life running and expanding small town car dealerships that were suddenly thrust on him by a father who died too soon. I lived up the street from this classmate but actually did not hang out with him very much in high school. We moved in different circles that only occasionally overlapped. In the last few years that has changed and I have come to know him a much better. He sold those dealerships and banked his money right before the market crash. He then left our high school town, entered a MFA program operated by the Shakespeare Theater Company at George Washington University, graduated and now spends his time auditioning, reading scripts and acting. He loves it. He calls himself more lucky than smart but I don’t think he gives himself enough credit. He does have one problem that I will be encouraging him to solve: severe sleep apnea.
Another friend his trying to reclaim a personal and financial life that has been turned upside down by a Ponzi scheme scandal at his former workplace. I was glad that he was able to open up to me about it. There is not much I can do for him except listen and then pray for the best outcome possible.
I won’t bore you with more stories about a handful of 60-year olds goofing around and sharing stories. Instead, I will encourage you to find and strengthen those friend connections that may have weakened over the years. You may have to enter a zone of vulnerability and risk rejection to make that happen. I believe it will be worth it.