This past weekend I spent all too short an amount of time with people I've known and come to love over the past 30 years: my prep school classmates. Back then, we were 105 disparate girls – some I liked, some not so much, some puzzled me, and some became close friends. In the intervening years we've become a real family. Like any family, we have our moments (come to think of it, back then we had our moments, too; the four-day battle over Spring Senior Dinner dessert comes to mind). But like any family, I know they're there for me.
One of them now works at the school. In an almost accidental fashion, at our 25th she started a conversation that was so intense, so powerful that many of us wished it could have gone on longer, and absolutely knew that we wanted to revisit at our 30th. This time it was no accident, but once again it was too short. The depth of sharing was incredible – each time, you could see that moment when the speaker decided that yes, in this group, with these people, it was ok to say these things. Some had such powerful stories it brought tears to our eyes, some talked about day-to-day frustrations with choices (or lack of choices); no matter what the tale, the sense that in that circle we were safe and with family helped us talk about things we may never have shared with anyone before. Friends, family, marriage, careers, health... all those themes ran through each of our “updates”.
At far too late an hour I retreated to me very small dorm room (seriously? did I ever live in such a tiny space?), my mind racing ahead five years to our 35th. What could I say to these women, these sisters, then? Not in one of those competitive ways – my path is one that none of the others have taken, although we've all, in one way or another, reached similar milestones. I wouldn't want to live their lives and they wouldn't want to live mine! But I think each of us laid out challenges for ourselves: a better, stronger, or new marriage/relationship... finding a way through those difficult parent/teenage child years... exploring what's next career-wise... coping with parental health (as one said “I'm the ham in the sandwich”)... dealing with our own health issues.
In five years, I want to be able to report better health. To be doing work I'm proud of, in a place I feel valued. To finally get over my speech impediment and say “no” in ways that are heard. To spend more time doing things I truly enjoy with people I truly love, and forging deeper connections to those that are important to me.
Does that sound Stalinesque, having a five-year plan? I know it'll be no Sherman's march on Atlanta – it'll be a drunkard's stumble home. Stay tuned.