Recently, my entire high school graduating class seems to have found each other on Facebook. These are people, many of whom I haven’t seen or spoken to in over thirty years, so it’s interesting to see the reconnections being made. And what I’ve found is that, regardless of the different directions our lives have taken, both figuratively and literally, enough of that eighteen-year-old girl or boy remains for us to fall back into those old familiar patterns of friendship. Long-forgotten nicknames resurface. Shared experiences are divulged (although it’s interesting that each person has a slightly different version of what occurred; memory is fickle like that).
Some of us have become raging conservatives (which is always humorous to me, considering the movie “Dazed and Confused” plays like a homemade video of our graduating class) and some of us have held to our more liberal beliefs. But it doesn’t matter; we’re still friends despite our differences. Maybe it’s because we remember one another as we once were; fresh-faced and hopeful and open to all the experiences life had yet to bring. Or maybe it’s because we’re older and wiser and know now that it’s not just character, but also fate, that determines who we ultimately grow to be. Maybe that makes us more forgiving of one another.
I knew when I began Beach Trip that it would be the story of four women; suite mates, originally, at a prestigious liberal arts college whose lives have taken very different paths. Women who, had they met later in life, might not even have been friends. I was curious to see whether their shared college experiences, and the lives they had led since then, the choices they had made, could sustain a twenty-seven year friendship.
I knew the novel would have an element of dark humor. And I knew there would be a surprising revelation at the end, a revelation that threatened the tenuous bond the women had shared over the years and yet helped to explain that bond, too.
I received an email not long ago from a woman who had read Beach Trip and who wanted to tell me about her group of friends. There are five of them, they met in kindergarten, and they’ve been getting together annually (more or less) for the last seventy-three years. Imagine that - seventy-three years of friendship! I like to believe that Annie, Sara, Mel and Lola will be similarly blessed.
I like to believe that I will be, too.