I just spent the most incredible weekend with dear friends I have not seen in 20 years. And yes, they are the dearest of friends – even after 20 years of minimal contact.
I’ve told you before about my years at Six Flags Over Georgia. It was an amazing place to work as a teenager. And although Place and Time are an important component of this experience, I recognized this weekend that PEOPLE are the most vital ingredient. Obviously, we cannot go back in time to recreate those years. I have not been back to the park in at least 20 years. The closest I got this visit was driving by it on I-20. But I was immersed in the people and personalities that made it what it was (is) for all of us!
This reunion experience was a curious study in memories, emotions, growth and recollections. (Any sociologist would have had a field day!) Those were some of the best summers of our lives. We literally came of age together – going from gangly, hormonal teenagers to know-it-all young adults. So of course we brought those immortal feelings of youth back with us to this reunion. It was mentioned that back then we were "10 feet tall and bullet proof." But now, as adults, we are forced to see our lives and relationships through a more mature lens. Today we know – as we remembered those no longer with us - that none of us are immortal. I believe this realized lack of immortality gave us a new appreciation for each other.
In spite of the years and distance, we fell back into place together. Just like your favorite, faded, thread-bare concert t-shirt. The crazy over exaggerated feelings of youth washed through us all. The humor, laughter, teasing, arguing, and loving were all present. Still, we had to spend some time putting the teenage angst into the context of (semi-) mature adults. What I discovered is this: These people I believed to be amazing as teenagers ARE amazing adults today.
On a less mature note, I don’t think I got more than eight hours sleep in three nights. It was like no one wanted to go to sleep. We wanted to soak in every minute we had together. As I told some of my Six Flags friends yesterday, I remember crying at the close of every summer when I had to go home to
It is almost impossible to put to words how it felt to look into the familiar faces of adults when the last time I saw them they were the countenance of youth. It was difficult to express to these people without embarrassing myself how much it meant to spend time with them again. As much as I love to be the center of attention, I found myself sitting back this weekend – listening, laughing, and taking it all in.
For the record, there were several folks who were unable to attend. You know who you are. You were not forgotten. I love you too! And YOU were sorely missed.
In looking back over this weekend’s pictures, there are smiles and laughter on all the faces. There was a warmth in that room you would be hard pressed to reproduce anywhere. We were not all the best of buddies back then. Some of us did not even know each other, but the bond of Six Flags Alumni is strong and undeniable.
Simply put, I LOVE these people. The memories of us together – then and now - are imprinted on my heart. I am the woman I am because of the relationships and experiences we share. You make me laugh until my sides ache. You make me cry until my eyes swell shut. You are my past. You are my present.
Thank you for being a part of my life.
Thank you for allowing me to be part of yours.
I am honored.
(except for you, Tom. I still owe you!)