By Corinne Wnek
Something different happened to me a few days ago. I had a great weekend. Now I’m not a fan of superlatives because they are way overused. Have you noticed that a lot of people often describe their most common experiences in a way that depicts them as either ‘winners’ or ‘losers’. The dinner was ‘great’. The movie was ‘horrible’. Her column ‘stinks’. Whatever. It’s getting tougher for me to distinguish the ordinary from the extraordinary these days.
But this really was a great weekend. I was invited to spend a few days at the shore house of some friends, along with assorted cousins, all of whom are BFF’s with each other. Since most of us are in our late 50s, it is a remarkable achievement that this group’s friendship has withstood the test of time. It is also remarkable because we couldn’t be more different in our backgrounds, education, jobs or personalities. Today, BFF’s last about a week. If you’re in middle school, maybe a nanosecond. Ask any teenager. Better yet, have them read this. It’s about lifelong friends and how it got that way.
Take Deb and Mitch. They sincerely like to have company. I guess when you lose a child to incurable illness, as they did around this time last year, the house can seem all too quiet. Never mind that the Jersey Shore’s infamous Snookie is in the neighborhood. The noise helps, but doesn’t heal. Yet, with great courage, these two people go through their days trying to adjust to their ‘new normal’. For them, solace is found in the company of old friends and family who have also shared their very good times. Life, for them and for many of us, is no longer about who’s missing, but who’s there for you in the long haul. It helps to walk along Barnegat Bay, too.
My friends genuinely like and support one another. No envy or trash talking here because we all recognize that not one among us has been exempted from our own personal sadness. In fact, when I look at the lives of these people that I have known for so long, I am quite thankful for my own bag of problems. I’m suddenly starting to feel lucky.
So sitting around a coffee table feeling the smooth effect of the ten-second Margarita starting to gently kick in, we retold old family shore stories. Our sides split with laughter as we remembered the exaggerated warnings our parents gave us about our first solo trip to the notorious boardwalk. “Make sure you stick together”, they bellowed, “and be home by 8:00”. Suuure. The lights! The rides! The freedom! This was Seaside Heights!
We would agree to anything just to go to the boardwalk alone at night! After all, we were almost eleven and so cool in our new found independence. But as it got closer to 8:00, what we couldn’t agree on was who would tell our parents that we couldn’t find our cousin Rennie. We would all be on death row. It ended happily, though, when we later discovered the little guy was having seconds at Mack’s pizza. We only beat up on him after we made sure he was alright and wouldn’t rat us out. As I recall, it was years later that our parents found out about ‘the incident’. Good ‘ol Rennie. Now that’s loyalty.
And that’s where Sally comes in. Sally exudes buckets of Irish charm. She loves to laugh and, more importantly, she loves to see you laugh. But under all of that is a hard-working, independent woman who always seems to be able to say the right thing at the right time. She is comforting and people gravitate toward her. They can’t teach you that in school because that comes from the heart.
So, how’s this for a back to school lesson? Cherish your memories of friends and family, embrace each other’s differences, be courageous when life gets tough, stick together and always remember to laugh!
Now that really is awesome!
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