Okay, this isn't as hot as Debbie Does Dallas--it's barely lukewarm--but it is the story of a wonderful weekend, one I really needed.
The last two weeks have been dismal. My computer crashed, my cat needed treatment at the vet's emergency room on a freezing Saturday night, I developed an upper respiratory infection and bronchitis and totally lost my voice--not good for a speech pathologist. I spent a week lying around, alternating between reading, watching TV and playing Hangman on my computer. When I went back to work, I was still exhausted and my voice would crack by the end of the day. I wasn't even sure I wanted to spend the weekend in Dallas, even though I'd planned on it for some time.
I took ear drops along, just in case. I took antihistamine, nasal spray, and the Robitussan-to-Go packets I'd seen advertised during my long days of watching TV. Alas, I discovered you need scissors to open the packets and of course you can't take scissors on a plane. But I actually began feeling better once I got to Dallas.
One thing I learned on this trip: It is possible to get lost even when you're using a GPS. The pleasant female voice that usually keeps me company was strangely silent when I needed her. Did I program something the wrong way? Was she just feeling ornery? Fortunately, I called my friend on my cell and she guided me the rest of the way. Take that, pleasant female voice.
The purpose of the weekend was visiting with old friends. One was a member of my writers' critique group in Houston. She moved to Dallas a few years ago, and we still critique by e-mail and phone. She is one of the most determined, courageous people I know. Despute her husband's sudden death a couple of years ago, she has approached life energetically. She has continued to write and submit despite rejections and is on the verge (fingers crossed) of selling her first book in 15 years. She has set new goals for herself and achieved them. Even though she became a widow after me, she's been a role model.
The second friend goes further back. She was a sorority sister of mine in college. She, too, moved from Houston to Dallas. We aren't in contact as much because she doesn't have a computer! I tell her if I can manage one, she can, too. But we do talk on the phone. She, too, has gone through some rough times, but she reads, exercises, plays bridge, spends time with grandchildren. She was an outstanding teacher at a private school I work with, and she brings that teacher mentality to everything she does. On Friday we met for lunch, then browsed through some stores, giggling the whole time about clothes we couldn't wear now...or maybe ever.
The third friend is from the ancient past: high school. Actually we met in middle school. I spent the night at her house Saturday and she invited some other Austin High alums for dinner. Of the four of us, two are widows, one divorced, one both widowed and divorced, and two still married to their first loves. As we reminisced and told stories of our present lives, I reallized no one is immune to tragedy. We've dealt with illnesses, disappointments, natural disasters (Hurricane Katrina, for one), worries about children and grandchildren, and yet every one of these women has persevered. One travels all over the world. This isn't her primary career, but she "likes to keep up with what's going on." She contributes to a travel publication and has advocated for gender equality at her university. Another was a flight attendant after college and returned to that career at age 60! Both her sons are pilots. Another, I learned, worked briefly after college for the CIA Okay, she was a clerk-typist, but still, how many people have the CIA on their resume? The fourth is a breast cancer survivor and the fifth has had knee and hip replacements and has recovered function through therapy and determination. I am so inspirated by these old friends. Maybe we've slowed a tiny bit, but we're all still going.
The most important thing I brought home from this weekend was the importance of friendship. Old friends, newer ones--doesn't matter. We have to cherish each other and the time we have together. So, to all of these amazing women, thanks for new and special memories.