Growing up, I made a few close friends and I have kept them as friends for more than 30 years now. Some of them even longer. I’ve made friends with people since, but not like the group of seven I was a part of as teenager. Those times, and those six friends of mine, are irreplaceable.
I’ve written of reunions with my six friends from high school before, but recently we had our first opportunity in what has probably been 14 years for all of us to be together in one place at one time — I’ll call it our “Big Chill” weekend (like the movie The Big Chill, only without the suicide of a friend being the catalyst for everyone getting back together). It was a true reunion of what I’ll call “The Magnificent Seven.”
We got together because, bottom-line, it had been so long and it was time we all were able to hang out and catch up again and where everyone is and how they’re doing.
We took a weekend trip north and stayed at my friend Dave’s parents place in Grayling. Thank you cannot even begin to say how I think we all felt about having a nice, quiet getaway location for the weekend to just hang out, talk, have some fun and relax. It was an awesome place and it gave us all the time and solitude we needed to catch up on life.
And our friend Craig didn’t even burn the place down, as we predicted.
While everyone has seen their share of trials and tribulations over the years, in all honesty no one had really changed at heart. We may have traded the teenaged weekend parties of pizza and Faygo soda for pizza and beer, and a comparison of bald spots and medical conditions replaced talk of girls, movies and music, but we were all the same seven guys sitting around in Grayling for our two, consecutive, night-time bonfires.
We started out with a Friday night toast to Bill Perry, a coach and teacher at Davison High School when we attended class there 25 years ago, who passed away earlier this year. For my pals Dave and Matt, they had Perry as a coach and fondly recalled running track and cross country under his watch. For others of us, Bill had been a teacher and mentor. It was a somber way to start out the weekend, but fitting to recall someone who had made a difference in some of our lives.
The rest of the weekend was filled with fun and fond memories. A reunion was an opportunity to drink, eat all the wrong kinds of food, talk about our kids and we even broke out the dice for a Dungeons & Dragons type game (I know, nerds, right?) Keeping politics out of the mix wasn’t easy, but none of the arguments led to fisticuffs. The leftwingers and right-wingers kept it civil, thankfully. Guys, thanks again for keeping the peace and agreeing not to agree — whew!
It was a perfect weekend and one I hope the seven of us can do again, maybe annually. I know life is short and as we get older I know fewer and fewer opportunities like this will be possible.
For me these are six buddies who have been there in the best of times and worst of times, and unlike other relationships in my life which have not withstood hard times and other tribulations — these are six guys I always want to be able to say are my friends for life.