When you’re little, you don’t pick your friends. I had a few friends around the neighborhood when I was a kid, but most of my friends were the children I hung around on the weekends – when my parents were with their friends.
It was the 70’s. My parents were hippies, trying to be grown ups. They had been friends with the same group of people for … well, forever. They all went through school together, became parents around the same time and went on to get married and have more children. (typically in that order) The good part was my brothers and I had plenty of weekend friends right around our ages. We were almost like a giant, dysfunctional family.
There were many parties. I loved the weekends because it usually meant we stayed up late and did (practically) what we wanted. That was pretty cool for a 10 year old. There was a lot of drinking, probably a lot of other “won’t mentions” and great music. We’d all end up crashing on the floors and somehow magically carried out to our cars, on to our beds, without ever knowing we left. It was all I knew. It’s how we spent many, many weekends and holidays.
But once the kids around my age turned about 12 or 13, we started staying home. Our parents all stayed friends but most of the kids went years without seeing each other. And after my brother died, when I was 16, we really removed ourselves all together.
Having lost my brother, I felt like a misfit. I know it sounds odd but nothing seemed to work right after that. Our entire group of friends kind of collapsed from under us because I think, honestly, no one knew what to say. My best friend ended up leaving the state to go live with her father – saying it was just too hard to move on from it. I understood the struggle for them because we were going through it too but it’s still interesting (after 24 years) to hear how people dealt with it.
Saturday night we had a reunion of sorts. From the hippy days, we invited over two friends (& their spouses) with whom we still keep in touch. Their parents are still friends with mine (& also very close with my yodad) and we’ve always stayed partially connected thru birthdays, weddings, babies, etc. My brother & his girlfriend came too so it was seriously like the 4 kids… all grown up. Because they know my yodad so well, we talked a lot about the events related to the last year. They told me that they actually found out he was my dad when they were in their early teens. It’s crazy what some people won’t talk about…
Anyway, we also talked about my brother who passed away. He was almost 14 at the time and these two friends were our same ages. He’s my age. She’s their age. They remembered things about that summer – about the funeral – that I had forgotten. & they both felt like it took them years to get through it. They were our family. We spent weekends together every month and Every New Year’s Eve for years. Of course it did. It’s just odd that we never talked about it before.
So we all gathered around my kitchen for hours and hours, talking about all those years ago and everything going on now. There were cocktails and good music but nothing of the “not to be mentioned”. Still, I wondered if it were really that different from those days 30 years ago. I mean, our kids were roaming the house – crashing on floors. There was good music and even an exciting argument or two. We aren’t driving volkswagons (anymore) but we appreciate them. (& were probably conceived in them… but that’s for another day)
We’re just the new generation of old hippies. And I feel super grateful that these two, especially, are still in our lives.