Friday, April 27, 2012

The Big Chill

 "It's a cold world out there. Sometimes I feel like I'm getting a little frosty myself." - Meg from The Big Chill.
Although filmed thirty years ago, The Big Chill's themes of friendship, change and the hyperborean sting of emotional isolation still ring true today.  I'm not a baby boomer reflecting on my transformation from hippie activist to yuppie capitalist (How did they go so far so fast?), but I can relate to changing as I age (physically, spiritually and emotionally) and the desperate need I have to confide in my friends.  Who wants to go through all this alone?  Not me.

Before this year, I struggled to stay connected with my friends.  Life was rush, rush, rush, but on reflection, the busyness made it imperative to stop and visit with my close friends.  We had to precisely schedule each gathering making the time spent together more precious so we didn't waste it.

With all the time in the world to plan a visit with a friend during this year, I didn't seem to make it happen.  Each day arrived with time slots wide open.  No rush.  No need to plan.  Then, poof!  Another day gone spent without the connectedness of friendship.  Stringing together months of too many days like this and I became lost in my mind and at the mercy of my fears.  I thought a year away would be the panacea to all my stressed out problems and relieve my fears of life passing me by.  While learning and growing in innumerable ways, I found my new biggest obstacle was loneliness.

A psychologist reading my blog would have diagnosed me by now with a classic case of manic/depressive disorder as I swing from high to low from blog post to blog post.  One minute, I'm high on life like a kid on a new bike.  Look, Ma!  No hands!  The next, I'm barely hanging on to the side of the cliff and can visualize what would happen if I just let go...

But no.  I am as stable as they come.  These feelings are all normal.  Haven't we all felt lonely one day and exhilarated the next?  Shouldn't a life well-lived show some scars? At the gates of heaven, when asked, "How was it?"  I don't want to answer, "Meh."

Prescribing myself a good dose of laughter, gossip and thoughtful chatter, I reached out to a few high school friends.  I found one I had not seen since graduation now living in California, following her passion and performing regularly in LA as a singer/songwriter.  How awesome!  I discovered another long lost friend is a professor of linguistics at Oregon State University and the author of several books.  Another wow!  If I hadn't taken the time to search I would never have stumbled onto their accomplishments nor felt the kindred connection of our mutual need to leave a mark on this world through writing.  Unfortunately, I unearthed their locations after our west coast trip.  Surely, I had old friends nearby...

Leigh Ann!  I hadn't seen her in seven years, but we had reconnected a few months ago in a superficial, one-liner way as people do on Facebook.  I knew she had two beautiful children, had recently remarried, and looked happy, but I knew no intimate details of her life.  Could we still talk like school girls exposing our deepest, darkest secrets and most longed for dreams? Or would we remain in the staid world of "I'm fine.  How are you?  Check out this link of a cat sleeping with a dog..."

She arrived late on a Friday night.  From the moment she entered the house to the moment she pulled out of the driveway, we did not stop talking.  We laughed; we cried.  We asked questions; we gave truthful answers.  We reflected on the past, we dreamed of the future and we enjoyed every second of the present.   For one weekend, we warded off the big chill of the world by confiding with a person that knew us before the frost.

I realized we have coats, mufflers, hats and gloves to protect our bodies from the cold and, if we are lucky, we have friends to protect our souls.

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