I spent this weekend at my college (Brandeis) reunion. Amongst my many deep thoughts (is that the same dresser that was in my dorm back then? How is it possible the food is still so mediocre? Why didn't anyone tell us our hair was so BIG?) were these: There's nothing like hanging out with old friends, and finding others who also have children with special needs.
My friends Wendy and Hedy and I had decided we'd go without our husbands and kids. I drove up Friday, and spent part of the afternoon roaming the campus alone. It felt surreal. In some ways it seemed like I had only recently been there, so familiar were certain parts. There was the suite I lived in freshman year with 15 other girls—one phone, one good shower, one lousy one. There was the building where I got my mail, ate lunch and worked in the bookstore. There were the stairs I'd climb daily to classes. There was the library, where I did more socializing than studying. All of it, so ingrained in my memory. Only it's been a couple of decades since I graduated and, as one friend said, we've lived a lot of lives since then.
|Castle dorm (it's not fancy inside, in case you're wondering)|
This time around, I was in a much better place, and psyched to be away with friends. How often does that happen?! We stayed up late in the hotel room talking, just like in school. I discovered that I am a bed hog and that I snore and laugh in my sleep, something good friends will delight in telling you but, evidently, not your husband. At the reunion events, it was good to hear what people were up to, and interesting seeing how they looked (wrinkle compare-a-thons: inevitable). With some friends, it felt like we picked up the conversation where it had left off years ago. I laughed so hard taking photo booth pictures, I cried.
At a BBQ lunch, I introduced myself to a dad who I'd heard had two kids with cerebral palsy. At a dinner, a woman came up to me and said hello; we have two mutual friends I know from blogland. I knew who she was, though I don't think we'd ever spoken in college. She has a son with autism, and she mentioned other classmates who have kids with autism. Then she and her husband told me about their son's bar mitzvah, and it gave me real hope for having one for Max.
I'd had the warm-fuzzies all weekend—being around old friends completely reboots your spirits. But the insta-connection you have with other special needs parents is its own kind of heartening.
I had to leave early Sunday morning to get to Sabrina's dance recital. I packed up quietly and crept out the door as my friends slept, then I drove home feeling happy. College-like lighthearted. And I don't think it was because my hair was less big.