GratiTuesday: A Reunion of Friends

There is something very comforting about spending time with friends that we’ve had for a long time. They know much of our history, and we know theirs. And, even though we’ve… um… matured over the years, they still have our younger selves planted firmly in their memory banks. Additionally, a simple “remember when…?” can bring back a flood of shared experiences that often generates a laugh, a grimace, or the retelling of a beloved story.

In the 1980s I worked as a graphic designer for a subsidiary of a large publishing company. This was one of my first “real” jobs and I loved it. Most of the employees (except, of course, management) were woman – very talented and vastly underpaid women. Many of us felt that we were doing something important, whether it was designing a textbook, writing and editing copy, or providing support for the creation and distribution of our products. The culture of the company, and probably our shared youthful naiveté and enthusiasm, helped to create the sense that we were all in it together.

Over thirty years later, several of the friendships we formed back then are ongoing. Some are of the “Facebook” variety, but others are permanent and active. I count a couple of my dearest friends among this group of women – one of them was even the officiant of my wedding.

Seven years ago, several of us decided to put together a reunion of small group of these former work friends. Some of those we invited had maintained contact over the years, and others – lost in the passage of years – had to be found using social media. We weren’t sure how it would turn out, but we were excited to see everyone and reestablish a few connections. That reunion was such a success we decided to make it an annual event.

This past Saturday, we had our latest reunion/lunch/get-together/gab-fest and it was as enjoyable as ever. After catching up on the latest news in each of our lives (travels, family, work – yes, a few still work at least part-time), we spent the rest of the afternoon telling stories, laughing, and sharing information about others we knew way back when. As always, the time together passed way too quickly and, when we parted, we were already looking forward to next year’s event.

Our hostess not only put together an amazing lunch, she also managed to get us all in her selfie.

I am so grateful to have this marvelous group of women in my life. They are smart, interesting, funny, well-informed, and actively engaged in life. Even though I see several of them only once a year, all of them added richness to my life 30 years ago, and their friendship adds depth to who I am today.

46 thoughts on “GratiTuesday: A Reunion of Friends”

  1. That is great. A few years ago I was able to meet up with our old Police Officer group that worked together and it was so special. All of you look so very happy and I imagine you were!

    I hope you get to have many more. I don’t like that women get paid less. At least it that hardship has a good outcome in helping build the bond you all have.

    1. There must be a special bond that develops in certain working situations that transcends time.

      I appreciate your comments regarding unequal pay. I think we were young and idealistic and didn’t know that we could/should ask for more. Fortunately, most of us recovered from those early years of being being underpaid and are doing well now. The experience had a value beyond money.

  2. The group I valued most during my younger years was a group of graduate students, with whom I spent 18 months in intensive study. There were eight of us, 5 women and 3 men, and we became very close, meeting regularly for years. After I read your post, I experienced a profound sense of loss that we let that precious association go.

    1. It’s easy to let those relationships fade away as we move through life. Maybe you can reconnect with some of your fellow students through Facebook and plan a reunion – even a virtual one if you’ve all moved away. I imagine that most/all of them would be thrilled to hear from you.

  3. Thank you for this very inspiring and timely post, Janis. I just returned from a gathering of ‘old friends.’ We all met for the first time over 23 years ago when we worked together at a Middle School. I agree with you that it is amazing how some bonds form, strengthen and continue on to survive distance and other potential hurdles. I love your special ‘Facebook Group’…that’s a great idea!

    1. I love how the passage of time may change our physical selves but it doesn’t diminish the affection we feel for each other. We have all taken very different paths through the years yet our past connection is the glue of our friendship.

  4. Thank you for the warm fuzzy that just reading this gave me! One thing we can never get more of, as the years pass, are People Who Knew Us When…

    A treasure, always, to gather with old friends. ❤

  5. I retired in 2008 along with a lot of other folks where I worked. We get together every year for a reunion. It is always great. They do have a Facebook page but I am not a Facebook user.

  6. I’m glad that your past is a place of support for you. My experiences are different enough that I actively avoid my past, whether it be work or family. I’m better off keeping my feet firmly planted in the present, with my eyes looking to the future, letting the past stay where it is behind me. I sound quite the contrarian, don’t I? 😉

  7. What a great reunion! Seeing each other once a year is still a great and fun fea(s)t. Each time I go to Belgium after a year or more, it is wonderful to catch up with friends, and often, it feels as if I last saw them yesterday.

  8. The friendships that survive the passage of time are precious! Congratulations to all of you! 🙂

    It’s interesting that during the ‘middle years’ we often didn’t have the time or energy to maintain these friendships, but it’s so much easier and satisfying to rekindle them now. I think it makes them that much sweeter to discover that there is still so much to pull the friendship together.

    1. You are so right! I had completely lost touch with one of the women for many years, but she reemerged after going through a divorce and raising her daughter. We all have more time now for important things, like maintaining dear friendships.

  9. This is something, like Ally, I will never experience. I was never part of a larger group of friends – one or maybe two at the most. And since I moved so often, some friendships survived, but I have lost connection with those that didn’t have deep enough roots.

    I’m not sure if that makes me sad? I’m certainly happy on your behalf to be able to claim a rich and engaged history with your friends.

    1. I’m with Maggie in that my moving so often has made it all but impossible to really see former co-workers in the flesh. Sometimes I’m saddened by the loss of the physical connection because lunches like the kind you’re experiencing would be really nice to attend. But I do try balance that with how enriching my life has been with so many different experiences and places.

      It sounds like you had a great time with them as evidenced by your picture. Pleased for you! – Marty

      1. It certainly makes it easier when most everyone is in the same city! You are right about the trade-off, though. I’ve lived in a few other places (school and briefly for work, but I’ve mostly been in the same area. The thing is, I’ve never found anywhere else I’d rather be… so, here I am!

    1. I’m usually the one who waits for someone else to do the planning – then I jump in enthusiastically. For this group, though, I felt that it was well worth it to take the role of chief organizer. Fortunately, they all jump in enthusiastically and make it happen.

  10. Friends are priceless…whether old or more recent. I had the pleasure of catching up with a relatively new friend this week and it lifted my soul. We only see each other a few times a year, but I love her life optimism! You are truly blessed to have these women in your life.

  11. Oh you are a lucky girl. Nothing is better than good friends…the kind that you can see after a gap of years and feel like you just saw them yesterday. The kind that can make you laugh until you cry. 😭. Your confidants. Your memory keepers. Definitely something to be grateful for. They don’t come along often, but when they do, they are something to be treasured. You’re reminicace of friendship has put a smile on my face today. To friendships old and new 🙏

    1. “Memory keepers” – yes, that is exactly what they are. I just had a walk this morning with my very oldest (in length of time) friend who is visiting briefly. Even though we talk now-and-then and connect via Facebook and through texting, spending time face-to-face is really special. We know just about everything about each other and no subject is too personal or off-limits. New friends are wonderful, but friends with history are irreplaceable.

  12. I just visited an old friend that I had worked with decades ago here in Germany. It was bittersweet because we lost an old friend to a tragic accident. It’s good to connect with old friends.

    1. Seeing friends decline – and certainly losing them – is so devastating. Even more reason to connect when you can, and tell them – often – how much they mean to you. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry for your loss.

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