Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Baby Boomer Wisdom

Growing up, my mother's favorite movie was The Big Chill. I got to see it a bunch of times, maybe I was allowed to, maybe not, and I just remember being horrified by this group of adults, one a doctah no less, doing irresponsible things, illegal things, taking drugs and having affairs and offing themselves and being complicated. As the product of parochial school and a downright goody-goody besides, it was unsettling to me that this lack of moral code was being glorified. It especially freaked me out that my own mother not only liked this movie, but claimed it as her favorite. "They just love each other so much," she said about the characters.

I haven't had the chance to revisit the film since I done grown up myself, but it doesn't matter because the thing is, I get it now. Somewhere along the way I became an adult. It's impossible to pinpoint the exact time in my life, as with most things it was a gradual onset, and without even realizing it, it became clear that being grown isn't much different than being whoever you are at any given time in your life. Sure you accumulate more responsibility and what you're allowed to do opens up, but you never really feel any different inside. And part of growing up for me, the real lightbulb moment, was accepting that everything's always just going to be gray. There's no black and white like you're taught, people will fall in and out of love and screw up and hurt each other and do things your 10-year-old self doesn't want to believe people outside of the movies are capable of doing because they are human and this is what it means to be human. The point is, if you're lucky enough to have people in your life for decades, the love you share trumps all. It makes it all bearable, all understandable. And my mother saw this truth in a movie and held fast to it. She probably understood my disdain for it, and didn't try to explain or even tell me I'd learn when I got older. She let me figure it out on my own. Maybe I'll never get around to loving The Big Chill, but quite awhile ago I figured out that I had already embraced its essence.

This is all a very long intro to what I really wanted to talk about, which is the wedding in the desert I attended. It was the wedding of one of Mike's oldest friends, a guy I don't know very well since he's lived out West for a long time, but I know him enough. In addition to being a joyous occasion for the bride and groom, it served as a reunion for the rest of Mike's growing-up crew, the guys of his formative years with whom he's pretty much remained in touch. As people move farther away from each other, I think weddings do this for groups of friends all the time. You know, you mean to be talking or seeing each other but everyone's so busy, so then there's this chance to attend a celebratory occasion you also use it to celebrate togetherness. It becomes inextricable. And in these modern times where weddings (mostly) don't exist to announce the exchange of chattel, the reuniting is nearly half the point.

One of the great things about being married to someone for such a long time is that their people become your own. Mike feels this way about my oldie-besties (especially when we're at our most annoyingly esoteric, eh Mikey?), and I feel that way about his. These people are mine. I may not have known them since I was in middle school - dang, a couple of them I just met for the first time this weekend, but I don't feel any less claim. They're just good dudes (man-dudes and woman-dudes), and they obviously care so much about each other, it's clear in the easy interactions. Everyone's life has gone in a totally different direction, but when it counts, they all head to the same place. These are the people of Mike's life, and they've become of my life. And I feel so lucky for it.

Our Friday-Sunday jaunt was exhausting, I won't lie, but it was worth it, because when do you get to be with people like this, all together, reminiscing and creating opportunities for future reminiscence? The specifics of what we did (swimming in the 100 heat, getting brunch two days in a row at an awesome farm restaurant, spotting a roadrunner and a jackrabbit, staying up until 3 a.m. making nonsensical ruminations about queefs, oh yes, and there was the matter of a wedding and reception too) are probably not going to be important. But as I look through the pictures from the last few days, it's all there. The story of human connection, of growing up and growing apart and coming back. Always coming back. In the end, that's every present, every toast and every smile and every joke and every tear.

Congratulations, Fran and Jess. I wish you many, many happy years together. Thank you for creating an impetus for this group to chill out together for a couple of days. Until next time.

Love. Each other. So much. You don't have to be my mother or Glenn Close to take those words to your soul.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Dawn -
    unrelated to this post -
    I saw this Etsy store and thought of you
    BookFiend "BookFiend: Literature inspired jewelry, stickers, cuffs and gifts"
    especially this:
    And also the "Careful or you'll end up in my novel" tote and necklace!
    -Rachel (in NJ)